Alice’s Adventures Underground is an immersive theatre production – that is strictly for adults! The production aims to drop you into the topsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland, and the fun, madness and bewilderment that goes with it.
It was the first time I had been to an immersive theatre production. They are really popular in London now thanks to events like the Secret Cinema Club where everyone wants to be involved in the production, so it was about time that I joined in too!
I went with Gemma and Ciara, and as Gemma has told me, Alice’s Adventures Underground was only meant to be a short term pop-up event, but due to its popularity the dates have been extended and it will run until the end of the summer.
No photography is allowed inside, and so I think that is why the event has retained the mystery and surprise that makes it special. So when I turned up, I had no idea what it had in store for me!
If you get the opportunity, I would recommend going so that you can see what it’s like for yourself. I have had difficulty explaining the experience to my friends and family without sounding delusional, high, or like I am making it up!
Our journey into Wonderland began in Alice’s study, which is cluttered with old books and papers. Just as we were poking around and looking at the props, Alice appeared in a mirror looking very scared and confused. As we were watching her, the door into Wonderland was revealed by a cupboard bursting open in one corner of the room.
We journeyed through the cupboard (or the ‘rabbit hole’) which led us through some tunnel-like passages before we eventually came out by a small stage.
True to the novel, the White Rabbit was the first character that we met, and he was standing up on the stage and ready to greet us all as we arrived. He brought our attention to two doors behind him, one of which was tiny and the other one giant. He then presented us with a choice of paths: did we want to shrink and journey through the tiny ‘Drink me’ door, or would we choose to grow and enter the larger ‘Eat me’ door?
Contrary to our hobby of drinking, we decided to go for ‘Eat me’, and so, after accepting an alcoholic sweet, we passed through the door into the maze of corridors and rooms behind.
Here, we were assigned a stamped playing card as our ‘passport’ into Wonderland, and the group was halved for a second time into hearts and diamonds. Gemma, Ciara and I were hearts (or heartbreakers, as we’ve been told!) From there on, we proceeded to meet the various crazy characters and scenes waiting for us in Wonderland.
First, we entered a room lined with doors where an actor dressed as a slug was waiting for us (although he could have been a beetle, or a frog, but he definitely wasn’t a caterpillar!) Some of the doors from the room were dead ends (one of them opened into a cupboard, another into white snow where foam came out when the door was opened). The diamonds were taken through one door, and the hearts were left behind for a moment.
We were told the story of an investigation that was underway to discover who had planted white roses in the Queen’s garden, and then painted them red to cover it up. Obviously, the Queen only likes red roses, so this was a major investigation!
Finally, a Cheshire Cat appeared in one of the doorways, and led us into a corridor surrounding a room. There were peep holes in the corridor so that we could peer into the room and overhear the group of diamonds that had been separated from us. The Knave of Diamonds was confessing to his fellow suit cards that it was him who had painted the roses red.
From here, we were led on through the maze to another room full of mirrors, where Alice appeared again to tell us that she was trapped in a looking glass and couldn’t remember what her name was. Random, or what!?
The next part was quite fun, as we were introduced to Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee. They were dressed like babies and they stood above us on stages that were designed as cribs complete with a mobile overhead. The actors looked like they were having fun because they were able to do some acrobatics, as the mobile that they were attached to acted as a device that they could lean off to swing around the room.
One of my favourite places was when we were sent to the outskirts of Wonderland to ‘lay low’ after finding out who had painted the roses red.
The scene took place underneath the old brick arches of Waterloo, and we were sat on a dock looking out into a pool of water. Here, a projection of the moon spoke to us and introduced us to the Mock Turtle, who was the saddest character in Wonderland. The turtle sat up out of a pile of what I first thought was rubbish, but was actually his shell and musical instruments (oops!) He played a beautiful but very sad song on his guitar and sang along to it.
Next, all the groups of hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds were united to go to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (this was also where we could have a drink!) We sat around the long table sipping cocktails out of tea cups as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Dormouse performed on the table and around us. They acted out parts of the novel, sang an ‘Un-birthday’ song, and spoke in riddles; so we really understood the sense of madness and chaos that Alice experienced in the book!
The tour culminated with a trip to the Queen’s court. We sat in our groups of card suits, and here it was clear that each group had had totally different experiences. My group of hearts had learnt a chant (which of course none of us could remember when the queen asked us for it!) and another had party poppers. Part of the court proceedings was a trial into who had eaten the Queen’s tarts, so that must have been what the spades and clubs had investigated!
I would have liked to have known more about what the other groups had done, out of interest, and to try and work out how the whole production was organised and each scene fitted together. It seemed like by choosing ‘Drink me’ the other groups had actually got to EAT the Queen’s tarts!
Afterwards, we were released into a bar where we could sample Alice inspired cocktails, buy a pie, or play flamingo croquet – so all the things you look for in a bar really…
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was really fun, and I will definitely keep my eyes out for other immersive productions in London in the future! Gemma said recently that she wouldn’t mind doing the Alice production again and choosing ‘Drink me’ in order to be taken on a completely different journey through Wonderland – and I think that’s the appealing and mysterious thing about it: that even having been to it I will have had a different experience to most other people who were there on the same date and time as me, but ended up going through the ‘Drink me’ door.
I can’t say what your experience may be in Wonderland, but I can say that if it’s anything like mine you will enjoy it, and probably want to do it again!