Review: Scottish Ballet: Alice, Festival Theatre

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Scottish Ballet: Alice, ***** Festival Theatre

ALICE, the perfect non-birthday treat for any dance lovers with surrealist leanings and a love of Lewis Carroll.

Created by Scottish Ballet's choreographer and artistic director Ashley Page and designer Antony McDonald, with an apt, attractive score by Robert Moran, Alice is a physical interpretation of the adventures of Carroll's best-loved character.

The story combines excerpts from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass alongside a real-life Alice who falls asleep in Carroll's photography studio.

Dreaming of a white rabbit, played by a skittish Tomomi Sato, she follows him through the hole in Carroll's camera lens and finds herself in an altogether different world.

Chasing through Wonderland, Alice has brief encounters with notorious characters, such as the capricious Queen of Hearts - played by a ferocious Martina Forioso - to a sinister, axe-wielding Jabberwock in Owen Thorne.

Taking a somewhat cautious approach to tackling Alice's narrative, the production's creators include Carroll as a character in his own right, played by Erik Cavallari. Dancing frequent duets with Alice, played by a flowing and dextrous Sophie Martin, Carroll serves as a foil to the characters, stepping in and correcting their behaviour.

The show really begins to capture the audience halfway through the second act with an absorbing encounter between Humpty Dumpty, Alice and Jabberwock.

While engaging an audience with a sensitive portrayal of the tragic-comic cracked egg is a rather tall order, Lewis Landini does it spectacularly against the tense presence of Thorne's disturbed Jabberwock. Humpty's interpretation of Jabberwock's words for Alice are a delight.

Although the set doesn't really allow for Alice to change shape during her encounters with food and drink, the giant screen at the back of the stage plays a series of Terry Gilliam-inspired cartoons that will divert Monty Python fans.

Meanwhile, a lithe Cheshire cat and the antics of a sleepy dormouse, complete with hot water bottle, keep younger audience members amused.

If that little lot doesn't keep your ballet-obsessed sweetheart occupied this Easter, well, off with their heads.

Run ends Saturday.