Alice’s Adventures Underground

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Alice in Wonderland is such an incredibly unusual read, a surreal journey, filled with logic, subtle political commentary, and a great deal of silliness. Along with its sequel it is truly one of those books that defies categorisation and brings ones imagination alive with the incredible possibilities of existence. In reading these books, the assumptions that underlie our day to day operations are constantly challenged by a fictional reality that has rules drastically different to our own. I’m particularly fond of the passage in which Alice pontificates whether she’s really Alice or another girl Alice knows called Mabel. It is completely absurd and so deeply philosophical as to leave my mind utterly discombobulated.  A mental state I’m surprisingly fond of!!! The message you take from wonderland, is truly a matter of interpretation, for me it is a tale that highlights the importance of retaining a childlike perspective in one’s life. I recently found myself re-reading this classic in preparation for attending Alice’s Adventures Underground an immersive theatre experience located at the Vaults, Waterloo. Curiouser and Curiouser…

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I think it’s a sure sign that you’re in for a good evening when it begins with a spot of flamingo croquet.  Standing around the bar section of the Waterloo Vaults, I soon happened upon this entertaining and most welcome of distractions. I did not have much time to master this gentle game however as only a little after I started playing I was called forth for an adventure in Wonderland. I was incredibly excited and just a tad apprehensive as to what lay in store for me…

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I’m incredibly tempted to recount in painstaking detail every single delightful event that transpired on my journey through Wonderland. However I do not wish to ruin the novelty of the experience for others, so I will keep myself to brief snap shots of what transpired and hope that this does not reveal too much.  In a delightful and somewhat creepy study, I found my way into Wonderland in a most peculiar and frightful manner. Next I beheld a classic optical illusion, in the form of two doors, one where the people approaching grew incredibly large and another where their approach turned them terribly small. After choosing a door, I soon found myself being processed by Wonderland customs and being assigned a suit of cards. As a Diamond I was soon taught to look up to Hearts and mock the lower cards, Spades and Clubs. This political designation would prove the glue that held the disparate elements of the story that followed together. On a side note, it was remarkable how quickly everyone took to their assigned ideologies and I thought it one of the most intriguing parts of the performance.

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However it wasn’t all political intrigue in Wonderland. The adventures that followed saw a merry conversation with Humpty Dumpty, a disturbing encounter with the unhinged Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a most excellent tea party, a sombre and touching moment with the Mock Turtle, not to mention a suspense filled trial. All in all, I think it’s safe to say that I had a bloody brilliant time and that this show was truly a spectacle to behold. The references to the books were numerous and beautifully chosen. The puppetry and set design were all first class. Finally the actors that guided us through Wonderland all gave incredible high energy performances, bringing this most impressive show alive. Here’s hoping that this second run of the show isn’t its last.

 

 

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The Sherlock Holmes Museum

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There’s nothing quite like an attraction with a long winding queue to dampen ones adventurous spirits and make one mildly cranky. The only thing worse in fact is to stand in said queue for twenty minutes and then have a member of staff approach to inform you that you need to leave the queue in order to buy a ticket in the shop. This is precisely what happened to me when I went to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street. I can tell you that when I finally re-joined the queue from the very start, I was somewhat aggrieved, things went from bad to terrible when I suddenly realized I needed the toilet. I was now well past mildly cranky and into the nightmare realm of Grump Hog Day! So if you go, remember before you join the ginormous queue, go to the gift shop next to the entrance as that’s where you buy your ticket. Having groaned on a fair bit and hopefully elicited some small sympathy; allow me to get on with my review which is only slightly tinged by this considerable trauma.

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The Sherlock Holmes museum is a delight. I’m a huge fan of Holmes and have very fond memories of reading the books at school during my formative years.  Like my trip to the Harry Potter studios, I found myself experiencing childlike wonder on entering a place so familiar to my imagination. Each room in this museum is beautifully put together with lots of small references to the books. One cannot help but think that Holmes and Watson did once reside here solving baffling mysteries in Victorian London. My favourite part of the museum is an inconspicuous book on the top floor. It contains letters to Holmes from all around the world that have been sent to 221B Baker Street. One or two were artistic, some had fictional mysteries, and my favourite from Gao Kun in China implored Holmes to give up his cocaine habit for the sake of his health. I have no doubt that a fair few of these letters are the result of teachers and there confounded homework assignments. Nevertheless it is absolutely astounding to see first-hand the joy a fictional creation can exert in the world.

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The Sherlock Holmes Museum, is tiny, a little overpriced at £15 a ticket, and comes complete with a deadly queue. However despite all these detractions, as a huge fan I think the decision of whether to go or not is elementary my dear reader.

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