Alice: A Virtual Theme Park
If I have to describe ‘Alice: A Virtual Theme Park’ in one word I would choose the word ambitious. Another one that comes to mind is brave. In the throws of lockdown, Creation Theatre, Big Telly Theatre Company and Charisma.AI are presenting this show from 1st-30thof August.
Director and Adaptor Zoe Seaton and guest writer Charlotte Keatley have managed to create a Zoom experience with so many innovative and exciting elements from Lewis Carrolls’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Although unfortunately it can’t compare to the feeling of being in a real-life theatre with face to face audience participation, it had its own unique advantages. With the benefit of good internet connection, interactive performances such as these often mean that you essentially have the best seat in the house and a clear view of the actor’s expressions all from the comfort of your own home.
Initially, the audience is in a ‘waiting room’ with the Chesire Cat, you can ask him questions, answer his riddles, listen to, or tell a joke. When the show is ready to begin you are taken to a Zoom call with all the other audience participants and Alice, who collectively fall down the rabbit hole together. From there, we to go back to ‘Wonderland’ where there is the option to choose who you meet; watch Tweedle’s Balancing Act or come face to face with the Killer Queen. Then back to Zoom to meet whoever was chosen and after some other fun interactive moments, I was transported back to a tea party with all of the audience and characters of the cast.
The cast includes Leda Douglas as Alice, Vera Chok as the Queen of Hearts, Dharmesh Patel as The Mad Hatter, Colm Gormley as the March Hare, Tom Richardson as Tweedle Dee/Dum, Annabelle Terry as the Doormouse/Cook and Nicky Harley as the White Rabbit. Tom Richardson’s portrayal of both Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum was hilarious and I found his performance quite engaging. Although, it was clear from the beginning that the cast was made up of talented actors; some having worked on Game of Thrones, with Soho Theatre and the RSC.
I experienced the odd technical glitch, before being sent a link to re-join the show but it was smooth sailing after that. The recurring thought I had while watching the show, which also had video game like qualities, was that it would be great for kids or families that had kids. It is one ticket per device, and it was wonderful to watch families huddled around a computer screen to watch everything together and openly discuss what was happening, creating a unique theatre experience for the family. Sometimes an audience member would be selected through Zoom to participate and hilarious reactions would ensue (vaguely reminding me of those that were surprised on screen at Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.) Choosing specific people in the crowd kept us on our toes as we are encouraged to keep our Zoom video on and even unmute our microphones at certain points ‘Would my video pop up next?’ The audience of people over Zoom (who all seemed to be good sports) made it more fun as we saw them move seats and step on the mouse for The Cook, among other things. It ran at approximately 70 minutes, although they could have slowed down a bit on dialogue.
At times it was a big chaotic, but overall, it is something different to do on a night in, a way to support theatre being made in this time and a fun thing for the family to do together. It was not what I was expecting at all, the description had me thinking of it as a drama when it is actually chaotically entertaining. Ultimately, creating theatre and drama at this time is important and should be applauded. Online facilities such as Zoom allow us to delve into a new way of experiencing productions, ‘Alice: A Virtual Theme Park’ takes the brave step of mixing Zoom, interactive choices, theatre and gaming and allows us to support the arts in a time when supporting the arts is extremely important.
Alice: A Virtual Theme Park will be running online until the 30thof August. Tickets are available at: https://www.creationtheatre.co.uk/book-virtual-alice/
Reviewed by Ciara Kelleher
Ciara is an Irish actress, writer and presenter. She completed a BA in International Business in Ireland before moving to London to pursue acting. She has previously published an article with Concern and lived in Luxembourg and South Carolina. She completed the Advanced Intensive Acting Diploma at the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting and has taken on roles such as Queen Margaret, Hazel in ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ and Cassandra in ‘Women of Troy’ and has written for Radio HaHa!