Alice brings wonder
to nonsense and silliness

Concordia Theatre’s production of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice stories

By Byron Toben

rabbit cook alice in wonderland play concordia

Rabbit and Cook: Meagan Schroeder, Michelle Langlois-Fequet

It is amazing that a silly tale told to a 10-year-old girl by a stuttering math professor in 1861 has become a classic of world literature. Perhaps, to paraphrase Polonius in Hamlet, “Tho this be silliness, yet ’tis merit in it.” That underlying merit has accounted for Charles Dodgson’s (writing under the name of Lewis Carroll) Alice in Wonderland and its follow up, Alice Through The Looking Glass never being out of print ever since.

The books have inspired numerous stage, film and TV versions. The latest is Harry Standjofski’s clever adaptation of the two works combined into one, entitled simply Alice, which had an all too short 4 day run at Concordia last week under the masterful direction of Dean Patrick Fleming.

Kudos (whatever a kudo is) to the 14 student actors, who doubled in 37 roles with energy, timing and quick costume changes. They took us back to the fond memories of yesteryear with anthropomorphic animals… the White Rabbit (Megan Schroeder) who is always late, the laid back Caterpillar (Augustus Oicle) reclining on a mushroom, the grinning Cheshire Cat (Burcu Emec) reposing on a tree branch.

Kudos… to the 14 student actors,
who doubled in 37 roles with energy,
timing and quick costume changes.

Eccentric humans also abound — the Queen of Hearts (Leah Fong), quick to cry “Off with their heads”, the Mad Hatter (Remi Mirreault) and his never ending tea party. Key to this of course, is a bewildered but gutsy Alice, ably incarnated by Michelle Rhambhrose. Is she an inspiration to Anne of Green Gables overcoming adversities?

I particularly enjoyed the portions from The Looking Glass. Here Humpty Dumpty (Curtis Legault) post fall yolk engulfs the king’s horses and men in a sticky yellow morass. Also, The Walrus and the Carpenter are here themselves turned upon by suddenly piranha-like oysters. It is also from Looking Glass that we get “mimsy” in the cadences of Jabberwocky.

salvador dali illustration down the rabbit hole

Down the Rabbit Hole by Salvador Dali

Does the spirit of Lewis Carroll live on, in some respects in Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan’s Goon Show and in Monty Python’s various episodes?

Stage manager Alexandra Maisonneuve and her two assistants really had their hands full in organizing the backstage timing that proceeded smoothly. The design team, production staff, costume, scene and properties shop folk numbered 63 souls by my count. Kudos again, to the Concordia Theatre Department for involving all aspects, not just actors.

The National Theatre School, the Segal Centre and the Centaur Theatre all helped in costume loans.

The most famous Alice illustrations are by Victorian John Tenniel. Pictured to the left is a rare one by Salvador Dali.

Alice ended on April 9 at the DB Clarke auditorium of Concordia University.

Images: Dan Haber
Feature image: Caterpillar and Friends — Curtis Legault, Augustus Oicle, Gabe Meacher, Sophie-Therese Stone-Richards.

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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