Alice in Wonderland at Kew Gardens is fantastically and interactively geared towards children, but it is a treat for the whole family. The unflappable Australian Shakespeare Company presents the whimsical play with moments of ad-lib and easy-to-follow songs for the kids – in addition to Lewis Carroll’s most poignant and playful questions. 


The Alice in Wonderland production is set in a grassy area in front of a copse of trees that stays partially shaded throughout the morning performance. Once seated family-style on picnic blankets (bring your own), Bill the lizard introduces himself to you, an audience of caterpillar spectators with occasional opportunities to participate.


Throughout, you may feel as if you’re re-visiting a fun elementary school classroom, where children eagerly volunteer answers, but the entertaining show adds adult humour to the mix with offhand comments. For instance, the Mad Hatter describes himself as mad – or possibly a “very stable genius” – and more.


The action begins with the frenetic White Rabbit, continuously huffing about being late and urgently driving the plot forwards. Alice recounts the cacophonous caucus race, re-enacted by the dodo and his feathery bird brethren until they are dispelled into a mad flapping frenzy by the word ‘cat’. 


Next Alice meets the White Rabbit, who orders her into the house to fetch her belongings for the Queen’s croquet match. The clever staging shows Alice’s monstrous-sized arms emerge through the windows to the delight of the children.


Staging and puppetry also emphasise the magical encounters with the lethargic bubble-blowing Caterpillar and the peculiar petite Humpty Dumpty. The grinning Cheshire Cat puppet’s disappearing act will leave the audience smiling, too..


From quarrelling Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to the particular Mad Hatter and the brusque Queen of Hearts, the energetic characters unabashedly challenge Alice and her perceptions until the play ends with a happy resolution.


Alice in Wonderland makes for an enchanting family outing, and guests are welcome to visit the rest of Kew Gardens afterwards. The show runs Tuesday through Sunday at 10:30am and matinees are available at 2pm on Friday and Saturday. The final performance will take place on 27 August 2018.


Review: Alison Roberts-Tse