Tea and Nuisance (Foxfire Theatre: Leith Depot)

As an avid ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ reader as a young child, I do love a good modern adaptation. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson aka ‘Lewis Carroll’ created an iconic piece of literature with multiple layers all with various interpretations. Although Foxfire does manage to capture the lyrical, complexity of Carroll’s language, the play grew stale very quickly.

Tucked away in the backroom of the under-rated Leith Depot, the space was transformed into a whimsical garden setting. Flowers dangle from the ceiling, complete with picturesque wire furniture and an antique inspired tea set. The costumes were equally impressive. Alice, or ‘Al’ as she’s known in this production, wears the iconic Disney blue dress, and her Auntie is flourished in gothic long flowing dresses complete with a flower adorned hat. The look of the play, in their posters, set and costume is stunning, meaning the Design co-ordinator, Hannah Mutch, deserves a special mention. It is a shame this added consideration can not be said for the audience’s seating. We were made to sit on tiny, uncomfortable stools. Meaning a seat in the front is necessary and my legs and back continued to ache throughout the performance. Not accessible for the elderly or injured.

The writing was a little drab. Emmi Heijari and Lauren McFarlane’s version of the cannon work, like many others, focuses on the dark side. Counteracting the delicate beauty of the set with a gloomy tale of child illness. The repetitive nature of the writing ruined any attempt at a ‘profound’ quality. The monotony of Mr Rabbit questioning Alice, sitting down to tea with her Auntie and looking into the mirror, just contained dialogue that went round and round in circles. There was no comedic factor to lighten the gloomy mood and no surprising twists. I felt like we were simply waiting for Al to die and by the end I found it hard to evoke any emotional reaction. They however captured the English up-tight, upper-class condition very well, which was always Carrol’s main focus of distain.

Noora Muhonen makes her fringe debut as Al. She certainly looks the part with large doleful blue eyes and a mess of blonde locks. Muhonen encapsulates Alice’s mysterious childlike whimsy and curious intellect well beyond her years. Her physicality and even slight accent made her perfect for this part. Megan Travers, Al’s Auntie gave a standout performance as the embittered yet playful drunk. Travers owned the stage with the sexy, powerful energy of a professional. Mr. Rabbit however never had the charm nor the rattled energy of his namesake.

Although this productions hit so many of the right chords, the lethargic energy of the text lets it down. The repetitiveness and constant intensity of the subject matter, left me wondering where the joy and silliness of the classic had gone.

 

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Rhona Mackay

Rhona Mackay

A 23 year old, working as an actor, writer and director. Born in Glasgow and moved to Edinburgh five years ago to study Acting and English at Edinburgh Napier.

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