“Of course that’s how it begins: a harmless fairy tale to pass the hours”
The beauty of living on the Kent coast is that I have the capital city an hour away and France about the same. It does feel strange that I can just pop to another county for the day, but it is great to be able to stock up on wine!
On Saturday 11th May, however, it wasn’t a trip to the continent, but a trip to London. Every few months my mum, my aunt and I go up to London for the day, do a bit of shopping or visit a museum and go to the theatre. Over the last year or so we’ve been to see Matilda, Julius Caesar and Hedda Gabler. All three of which were stunning performances, Matilda was hilarious and very intelligently written, the RSC production of Julius Caesar was such a brilliant take on the classic tale and Hedda Gabler was an emotional show with such a fabulous performance by Sheridan Smith.
This time we were luck enough to have tickets to see the legendary Judi Dench in Peter and Alice.
I have always loved the theatre, it is so much more magical than TV shows or films. The ability to make a story come to life on stage has always fascinated me and I’ve been part of drama groups before, acting, writing and directing, as well as doing drama and theatre studies A level. I don’t know whether this adds to or takes something away from my theatre trips, I find myself analysing what I am seeing, looking out for gobos and dramatic irony! Anyway, I digress…
Peter and Alice tells the story of how the inspiration for Peter Pan meets the woman behind Alice in Wonderland. The wonderful Ben Whishaw plays Peter Llewelyn Davies and portrayed his eagerness to learn from Judi Dench’s Alice Liddell Hargreaves and his hunger for understanding amazingly well. His character’s development throughout the play is so heartbreaking that you really do feel the anger of a little boy who had to grow up too quickly, instead of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. But he is living in his shadow.
Judi Dench’s Alice was much the same, now an old woman, Alice is no longer living in Wonderland, but can barely afford to heat her home. She is now not seen as Alice in Wonderland, but just as another ageing member of society.
The stage changes dynamic as Peter and Alice are joined on stage by the memories of the writers that immortalised them, and the characters they became. Stories of their childhood are told, precious memories they hold are revealed and dark times in their lives are exposed.
The other cast members; Nicholas Farrell (Lewis Carroll), Derek Riddle (James Barrie), Olly Alexander (Peter Pan), Ruby Bentall (Alice in Wonderland) and Stefano Braschi (various) were all marvellous. Alexander and Bentall in particular added a much-needed comedy aspect to the production.
I’d love to say, as well, that the set design was, utterly fabulous, perfectly capturing Wonderland and Neverland at the same time.
Peter and Alice is not a happy tale, but it is not completely devastating either. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, and I would tell anyone who has the chance to see it to take that opportunity if they can, it is such a wonderful production, it’s a shame it is not on for longer.
Ps. I don’t own the pictures 😉