ARTS University Bournemouth is setting new – and enviably high – standards in collaboration between acting and design courses.
And nowhere has it been better shown than in the pre-Christmas production of Laura Wade’s Alice, a thoughtful and interesting new version of Alice in Wonderland that incorporates elements of The Wizard of Oz and applies them to the process of grieving.
Luke Kernaghan’s production has astonishing projections designed by Nicole Cuddihy and costumes by Hannah Bruce (each character’s costume interpreted by an individual student), making for gasp-inducing visual effects in the intimate but sparse setting of AUB’s performance studio on the Wallisdown campus.
It all starts at a funeral wake, where a 12-year-old girl is not coming to terms with the death of her beloved older brother, knocked down outside the school by someone driving too fast. And, in a heartbeat, Alice has fallen into her own misery, a deep chasm out of which only she can find a way.
It’s an inspired take on Lewis Carroll’s story, and cleverly mixes in all the fantasy and silliness of the original.
With the exception of Sarah Cribdon’s painfully angry Alice, all the students play multiple roles in this helter- skelter journey from hell to wonderland and back to life. And as in Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz, the people in Alice’s life seem to people her dream world.
Zachary Trevitt’s charismatic Cheshire cat, Pete MacHale’s beautifully paced White Rabbit, Bethany Salt’s Duchess, Abi-Jayne Denwood’s over-compensating mother, Mimi Attenburrow’s extravagantly costumed Mad Hatter, Niamh Lily-Garvey’s Tweedledum and Lesley Havekost’s Cook and Tweedledee are just some of the outstanding characterisations from this very talented company.
The AUB performing arts department is on a roll. Do take the opportunity to see this intake of students while you can. Their next shows, in February at Poole’s Lighthouse, are a double bill of Julius Caesar and The Children’s Hour.