‘Through the Looking Glass (and What Alice Found There)!’ has been carefully and respectfully adapted from Lewis Carroll’s 1871 original novel by Adelaide University lecturer, Rosemary Nursey-Bray. Lewis Carroll is the pseudonym of mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
This is the final production for the year by the student-run Murdoch Theatre Company which although based at Murdoch University auditions students and outsiders. The MTC’s aim is to help talent get a start. Indeed, the lead for this show, Natalia Myslinska and Darby Sinclaire (both outstanding) are still finishing their schooling.
The four 90-minute phantasmagorial performances were practically sold out a week in advance; they can be seen at Studio 411 adjacent to Carpark 4 in the grounds of Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch between Thursday 28th November and Saturday 30th November at 7:00 pm.
The scene: Alice’s parents’ sitting room. Victorian times in Cheshire, England.
The set: was designed by Matthew Moynihan. The stage floor was in the pattern of a chess board. The were three large flats on rollers that represented the forest. The artwork was excellent, often the quality of outdoor scenes would not pass school third grade, these could be sold! There was an old oak, high winged armchair.
The numerous props by James Gillespie and Kate Manson included several 40 cms wooden cubes that acted a seats for the cast. An ‘antique’ chessboard, swords, telescope, exotic headdresses and signposts. There was a delightful shadow puppet show, with stylish puppets and good operators who knew how close to the screen the cut-outs should be held; they had a light operator that positioned the beam correctly. These shows either work well or more often, fail badly – this was superb.
Lighting design was by Sabrina Wyatt who showed skill in creating atmosphere. Sabrina was also aided in the sound design by Jordan D’Arcy; their selection of music was particularly appropriate.
Bright and interesting programme for the show from Perfectly Picturesque Photography and Stephanie Beckham.
The stage manager Leigh Richmond had major props coming in from the auditorium entrance aisle and simultaneously groups of actors entered by the wings’ door – tricky to control, but the show flowed very smoothly.
Whilst playing chess with her cat, Alice (Natalia Myslinska) looks in the mirror. The looking glass melted before her eyes and she saw other people beyond. Stepping through the mirror frame she met the nasty Red Queen (Amy Swerlowycz) who treats everyone terribly, especially the beautiful White Queen (Kendra McGrady). Alice wanders around the garden and meets Tigerlily (Darby Sinclaire) and her botanical friends, the Roses (Francesca Walker, Stephanie Beckham), the Daisies (Rosalie Schneider, Tessa Stephenson) and Violet (Bella Doyle).
Just before she boards a train, Alice is told not to forget her name. Sitting in the train compartment is a gentleman wearing a suit made of newspapers (Steven Correia) and a goat (Thay Black). The train guard (Tomas Kenny-Simpson) blows his whistle and the train moves off.
At the end of the journey Alice meets a wild pair, Tweedle-Dee (Rosalie Schneider) and Tweedle-Dum (Stephanie Beckham) and their comical friend Humpty Dumpty (Mike Moshos) who is convinced he is fall-proof. Alice then meets a friendly confused couple, the March Hare (Kate Manson) and a Mad Hatter (Zenna Newman). As Alice sits down to a meal served by Frog footman (Kate Manson), she gets the company of leg of mutton (Bella Doyle) and plum pudding (Tessa Stephenson). A battle breaks out, as the king of the jungle, Lion (Frankie Walker) decides to pick a fight with Unicorn (Darby Sinclaire).
Was this all a dream or did it really happen?
This massive production was directed by Jordan D’Arcy, with assistance from Sabrina Wyatt. This is probably the most impressive show presented at Studio 411. Although the venue is quite small, the whole show had a big feel to it. The varied and interesting costumes (Tarryn McGrath, Tashlin Church, Priya Guilfoyle, Francesca Walker and Rebecca Dilley) were magnificent, a huge amount of work had obviously gone into them. Likewise, the makeup (Tessa Stephenson, Francesca Walker and Tarryn McGrath) was restrained and therefore more effective. I particularly liked the Red Queen, the Unicorn and the March Hare’s smile.
A great cast with amusing characterisations. Very well directed. True to the feel of the original book, this story was more suitable for children and will provide entertainment for children of all ages. Congratulations.