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The Carroll Myth (Buxton)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Underground Venues, Buxton Fringe

“There is nothing funny about peculiarity”

Hidden behind the cerebral facade of the genius behind the creator of Alice in Wonderland, Schmucks Theatre Company begs to differ as they take us into the ‘realms of the ridiculousness’ with this intense production telling the untold story of the relationship between Lewis Carroll, his muse and the manipulating creations of his imagination.

Following it’s debut in 2009, this revised piece of original writing offers an explanation for a previously unaccounted for period of the author’s life.

Descending into the depths of madness with frightening intensity, it is difficult to feel any sympathy for Carroll. His mental usurpation by the products of his own subconscious makes him appear weak and his lascivious advances towards a vulnerable and naive Alice Liddell leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Nevertheless, it is a bold performance by Joshua Ogle who slips effortless between the scholar and his alter ego. Charlie Rendle is outstanding as the Mad Hatter: capturing brilliantly the curious blend of absurdity and anguish, and there are plaudits too for Sarah Adams as the fervently precocious Red Queen and the combined talents of Miek Gracer, Miriam Swainsbury and Jennifer Durrans as the multi-faceted Cheshire Cat.

With an ensemble cast of spectacularly colourful characters, Nathan Shreeve’s writing leaps off the stage and into the imaginations of the audience who soak up every last drop of this visceral explosion.

But the performance space is arguably limiting. It restricts the fluidity of grandioso gestures and constricts the overall physicality of the acting – particularly in the dancing scene finale. And yet the set also provides an uncomfortably claustrophobic environment for Carroll, which extends to the audience who in turn feel trapped inside Carroll’s mind.

A wonderfully executed edifying experience – The Carroll Myth is destined to become one of the highlights of Edinburgh.

- Sarah Bloomer


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