Review: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground at the Royal Opera House

I wish I could tell you half
of the things. Alice used to say,
beginning with her favourite phrase
‘Let’s pretend.

– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass house’

How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.

I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?

We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventures Underground
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice
My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground…

This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.

The Cast
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom

All of the cast above also played various other roles.

A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.

There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020. Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020 – Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice
“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”
The Greenwich Mummy Blog | ROH Alice's Adventure Underground review
©ROH 2020 – Photo by Clive Barda / Lewis Carroll Cast featuring Claudia Boyle as Alice

The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.

It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂

For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!

More on the show here: http://bit.ly/ROHaliceadventures


NB. We were kindly gifted tickets to the performance in exchange for this blog review. All words, opinions and content are my own. ©ROH 2020 copyright photos that were provided to me by the Royal Opera House have been credited respectively. 

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