On Saturday, I was lucky enough to see Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House. After hearing such rave reviews of the show, I purchased tickets last July and couldn’t wait for January to roll around so that I could finally see it.
I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, and if I’m honest, I had been a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped as I’m such a huge fan of traditional, classical ballets. Luckily, however, as soon as the curtain went up, I knew I was in for a real treat.
The whole production of Alice in Wonderland is done on such a lavish scale that I was in a constant state of awe and delight, as the costumes and sets just got better and better. It is certainly the most theatrical ballet I have ever seen, and it’s real treat to see it done by a big company on a huge stage.
We were lucky enough to see the wonderful Francesca Hayward dance, who brought a mischievous gaiety to the role that was an absolute joy to watch. The part of Alice is incredibly gruelling, as she is on stage for almost the entire show, with lots of challenging solo and pas de deux performances in the second and third acts especially. Francesca Hayward, however, seemed to manage it all effortlessly, exhibiting flawless technique and exquisite lines the whole way through.
I would say that this ballet is less about showcasing technical mastery (there aren’t the 32 fouetté turns as in Swan Lake, or the balances à la Sleeping Beauty to look out for), than it is about putting on a truly spectacular show. Nevertheless, there are all the hallmarks of classical ballet that traditionalists like myself love to see: the 3 act structure, waltzes that dramatically incorporate the corps de ballet, as well as romantic pas de deux.
For those less keen on ballet, or who have never been to one before, this would really be a great one to see. There is a definite modern twist to this ballet, with plenty of humorous choreography that makes the most of Joby Talbot’s wonderful score. The whole ballet is true feast for the eyes: a digital screen whirls dizzyingly as Alice ‘falls’ down the rabbit whole; the sets are magnificent (my favourite was the Queen of Heart’s maze, complete with red (and white!) rose bushes and dancers in tutus that are cut in the form of playing card shapes); the whole audience fell in love with the entrancing Cheshire Cat and gasps of delight rang out as members of the corps de ballet, dressed as flowers, ran through the stalls, whilst colourful confetti fell from the ceiling onto our laps.
Christopher Wheeldon’s take on Alice in Wonderland does a wonderful job in keeping true to the charm and eccentricity of Lewis Carroll’s original Alice. I’m so delighted I got to see it, and as 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I feel it was very appropriate to start the year with this ballet!
Have any of you seen the Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? What did you think of it?