In the 150th anniversary year of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, you can enter your very own Wonderland in the Vaults under London’s Waterloo, where no two experiences are the same.
This week I fulfilled a near-lifetime ambition: I got to play at being Alice in my own Wonderland, a magical nonsensical place filled with twisting walkways, riddles with no answers, doors to nowhere and a tea party with no tea. Thank goodness then for the White Rabbit, who was the voice of reason in this otherwise absurd world.
Lewis Carroll’s tale of a little girl called Alice who follows a rabbit down a hole and comes across a world of mayhem, where everything that isn’t is and everything that is isn’t, is a British childhood classic that has stirred the imaginations of children (myself included) for generations, and in this, its 150th anniversary year, it is recreated to glorious effect in Alice’s Adventures Underground, a piece of immersive theatre from Les Enfants Terribles that is quite unlike any other.
From the moment you are led from the auditorium in a small group, like participants on a Willy Wonka Choclate Factory tour, you are conditioned to expect the unexpected in this lavish promenade piece.
A dusty room with antique furniture and old photographs and books provides some tentative calm before you are shuttled through a hidden doorway into a room surrounded by mirrors where the sky spins as you fall deep, deep into the rabbit hole.
No sooner have you adjusted to your surroundings than you are given a choice: ‘eat me’ or ‘drink me’, and your decision will decide the route (or at least part of it) that your adventure will take. I don’t want to spoil the surprise by giving too much away, but let’s just say that while some of us went through the underworld network as part of a team, others had more individual experiences.
There are lots of familiar faces en route, from The Queen of Hearts, to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and of course a rather Mad Hatter.
Alice’s Adventures Underground is surreal, unreal, funny and a tiny bit scary, and I left feeling like I wanted to do the whole thing all over again. It’s a chance to let your imagination run wild, and best of all to play, and who can argue with the logic of that?
Alice’s Adventures Underground is booking until the end of August. Tickets are £35 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; £40 on Thursdays; and £47.50 on Fridays and Saturdays.
There is also a children’s version available: Adventures in Wonderland.
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