Alice in Lockdown review: After so many months, the show is finally back in Leamington - and it is hugely entertaining

It is great to be publishing film reviews once again. Here is a review by Nick Le Mesurier of Alice in Lockdown

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 1:49 pm
Alice in Lockdown. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.
Alice in Lockdown. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Alice in Lockdown

Written by Dani Carbery

Directed by Scott Worsfold

Alice in Lockdown. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Spencers Yard, Leamington

August 26

Review by Nick Le Mesurier

After so many months, the show is finally back in town!

Alice in Lockdown. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Those stalwarts of the open-air stage, Leamington’s own Heartbreak Productions, brought a little of their theatrical magic to town on Wednesday night. Alice in Lockdown is their adaptation of the famous Alice in Wonderland tale; only it isn’t a last-minute re-hash of a well-loved story. This is pure theatrical gold: fast and funny, visually as well as verbally stunning, with more than a nod to the pantomime tradition that we will, sadly, largely be missing this year.

There are many characters in this play, most of them played by the amazing Jason Ryall. He and Abigail Castleton (as Alice) have played the Heartbreak stage before. From the moment you walk in and are greeted by them in their everyday clothes you are made to feel at home. Then the show begins. Alice is an 11 year old kid, stuck with her dad in lockdown, out on a visit to a theme park, which is closed. They see something that looks like a white rabbit, and while her dad goes off to look for it, Alice is transported to the magical kingdom, where anything can happen.

There are very few props in this production: a giant chess set is the main one, around which much of the action plays as Alice, a mere pawn in this world, has to get from one side of the board to the other in order to get home. On the way she meets the white rabbit himself, a wonderfully lugubrious caterpillar munching snacks, the White King, a Mexican Mad Hatter, a truly snarky Red Queen, Humpty Dumpty complete with fold-away wall, and Joe Wix, the wonderful Workout White Knight.

Heartbreak shows would be the poorer were it not for the audience participation. Two people with a penchant for mime stepped up and became Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. The script, mostly in rhyme, is riddled with puns. There was a manic rendition of Livin’ La Vida Lockdown. It could be naff, but such is the energy of this show, its warmth, the skill of its actors and crew, and its all-embracing fun, that it’s a triumph.

Theatre is not dead, it’s just gone underground, down into Wonderland.

This hugely entertaining show has already toured the country, but there are still a few dates to go.

See https://www.heartbreakproductions.co.uk/ for details of this and Heartbreak’s other activities.