The Other Room is doing something quite wonderful this Christmas, it’s brought a Christmas production to Cardiff designed for an older (15+) audience. I love everything about Christmas, and love taking my little ones to see as many Christmas shows as possible, offer me an excuse for a rare night out with friends over Christmas and I’m waving my hand in the air.And Alix in Wundergarten is funny too. And that’s me saying that. I hate anyone telling me in advance that something’s going to be funny. It sets an expectation, and humour can be a random thing. And added to my random humour, I was having an absolutely shockingly bad day. The kind of day which makes you think you’d be doing everyone else a favour by going home and shutting the door on the world. But from the minute you’re asked to walk across the set to your seat, to navigate a deckchair gate, a litter tray of sorts, to be warmly greeted by two of the cast and not quite know where to put yourself, well the sense of randomness is wonderful, and the penny drops. You really are one of the radio drama competition winners joining the live audience and cast recording Alice in Wonderland. Where the acting begins and ends becomes unknown and The Other Room’s intimate setting is absolutely perfect along with Carl Davies’ design for creating this radio studio.
And everything gains an Alice in Wonderland sense of surreal. As Fabian the Director arrives and the cast are ‘formally’ introduced to us. An intricate tapestry is the best way to describe the characters which unfold, the cringeworthy and the sympathy entwining to give some of the best moments of laughter, and when I say moments, it’s a constant throughout, the kind which makes your jaw ache.
The four actors are fantastic. Such strong defined character they are incomparable. They leave their humour with you, I’ll never look at the name “Gael” and pronounce it “Gail” ever, I’ll not hear “2-4-6-0-1” and not think of Nick… there is so much packed into the 90 minutes.
But it is the randomness which overlays everything, as the themes of the cold war overlay Alice in Wonderland, and you’re listening to a rewrite with German accents and Alice being reworked in favour of Alix.
Nothing really says “We’re all mad here” better.
Well, perhaps Fabian’s reaction to his actors did. There is no doubt of Angharad Lee’s strength of director, given the amount of improvisation which undoubtedly occurs, making a completely energised performance and even more laughter. The talent of François Pandolfo in creating such a bizarre script must need a nerve of steel to direct. And yes, if you have a fear of performances with audience interaction, be a little cautious- and definitely don’t draw attention to yourself with any bright colours… just saying.
My office has a sign about all the best people being bonkers. I think it’s right.
Alix in Wundergarten is at The Other Room until 19th December 2015, with tickets available on the website.
Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are my own.