There can scarcely be anyone whose childhood was untouched by Alice in Wonderland, the beloved and enduring Victorian creation of mathematician Charles Dodgson under his pen-name Lewis Carroll and modelled in part on the inquisitive mind of the daughter of his college Dean Henry Liddell.
Academics and psycholgists have mined the text and contemporary diaries for rival theories about Carroll’s fixation with Alice, and analysed his own mind conflicted between his career as a logician and vivid imaginings of the storybook characters with which he entertained her.
Superbly realised in Nathan Shreeve’s original and dynamic script, the gentle Dodgson is besieged by the characters from the story. How they overlap with the personalities in his real life and unravel his mind is entirely plausible in Joshua Ogle’s meticulously graduated performance: Alice’s overbearing mother becomes the Red Queen, a pair of quarrelsome gardeners in the Liddell household inform Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The sinister atmospherics of the production are brilliantly nuanced through original music and the sinuous linkages of the Cheshire Cat, played by an enthralling trio of physical actors. Fine characterisations too in the performances of Charlie Rendell as Liddell and the realistically mad Hatter, and a gorgeously creepy and coquettish Sarah-Miles-in-the-making Alice from Eleri Jones, the very embodiment of ‘Contrariwise’.