Preview: Alice at the ADC

Leyla Gumusdis 19 January 2016

''We’re all mad here”, Lewis Carroll famously wrote in his timeless classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This crazy and haphazard world will be given a new spin next week in a show that represents Alice’s adventures through, in Cambridge terms, the rarely-performed medium of circus.

The first contemporary circus show to take place at the ADC, Alice promises to be an exciting opportunity for performance in Cambridge; a collaboration between actors, Cambridge University Dance Society, Cambridge University Olympic Gymnastics Club and Cambridge Community Circus, it brings together a large number of technical performers on a stage otherwise used for hosting plays and sketch shows. Ballet dancer Vinciane Jones (pictured), set to play Alice, seemed excited to be able to showcase her talents in such an atypical production: “It’s been a really cool and fun show to rehearse for, but also a little quirky. It will be an interesting mix of circus, gymnastics, dance and acting so there should be something that will appeal to everyone. What’s engaging about the ballet element is just how beautiful it can be and the way it can express Alice’s feelings through movement.” Speaking to The Cambridge Student, director Joanna Vymeris described the show as “a madder Wonderland than ever before, where audiences will encounter unforgettably classic characters like the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts played by astonishing performers flying above Alice’s head, on trapeze, silks and aerial hoop. The show is a unique cross between circus and theatre that should hopefully encourage more interesting and unusual shows in Cambridge in the future.”

Student theatre here often tries to push boundaries through adapting niche texts, hosting zany comedies or super-size musicals. But rarely are so many complex, technical elements of circus and dance blended together and by prioritising the purely visual experience of the audience, Alice takes a bold risk. Whether this late show pulls it off will be revealed, but the ambition of the cast and crew has to be lauded as truly ambitious. With everything in this wonderland set to move across and above the ADC stage at once, audiences may wonder if they have gone mad themselves. But to finish the timeless quotation, “all the best people are”.

Alice opens at the ADC at 11pm on Wednesday 27 January.