Review - Wonderland at Milton Keynes Theatre
I often feel quite sorry for actors
Imagine going for several job interviews a month, trying to sell you out. Normally one or two a year would stress people out, but actors, like all other professions, still have mortgages, rent and families to support.
And as is often the case, they are the audience facing people. They'll be the ones recognised on the street, so when they are overshadowed by a production which is more am-dram than RSC, then it must be incredibly disheartening.
You can almost accept little errors on an opening night but not when they have done more than 200 shows on the road. From our seats, we could easily see a stage hand on the left hand side helping people in the ensemble and people at the back of the set dashing about. The set itself, probably a key component in Wonderland, should be bright and colourful and yet is pretty bog standard and fails to work even slightly. There's one bit where Alice's daughter is locked in a poorly conceived prison. Given the height and size of the actress, she could have easily climbed through.
Even the orchestra are not wonderful, constantly too loud and drowning out the performers. I've heard Kerry Ellis, playing Alice, who has a great voice. But you wouldn't have known it having competed with a booming orchestra.
It's only Alice's songs and the all-to-brief appearance from Wendi Peters as the Queen of Hearts that save this show. I was hoping for more of the latter as she pitched the eccentricity perfectly. A lot of the rest were all trying a bit too hard for me.
The story is about Alice wanting to get away from real life and live in a fantasy land. And I'm sorry to say, that after two-and-a-half hours in this environment, I was quite pleased to return to real world. But there were plenty of others who enjoyed it, some enough to stand at the conclusion, while I was busy searching for the rabbit hole out.
Wonderland can be seen until Saturday July 22. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/miltonkeynes.