In Review

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Ballet – reviews

The Royal Ballet's 'dazzling' Alice revival is a visual joy mixing dance, Vaudeville and magic

What you need to know

The Royal Ballet's revival of Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ballet has opened at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The production, first performed in 2011, features a scenario by Nicholas Wright, score by Joby Talbot and stage and costume designs by Bob Crowley.

Based on Lewis Carroll's classic children's story, it follows plucky Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole into a dreamlike world of magical encounters with a cast of curious characters including the Queen of Hearts, a Mad Hatter and a Cheshire Cat. Runs until 16 January, with a live cinema screening 16 December. 

What the critics like

Wheeldon's extravaganza does not shy away from Lewis Carroll's "absurdist, dark and occasionally Kafka-esque" story, says Laura Thompson in the Daily Telegraph. Conjuring the plot and its nonsense-cum-logical progression with remarkable fidelity, it's a richly impressive achievement and dazzling stuff.

It's "a visual joy" and a theatrical response worthy of every Lewis Carroll trick, says Clement Crisp in the Financial Times. The Royal Ballet's artists rally grandly to this jolly evening, staged with wit, bravura, and unfailing imaginative resource. Wheeldon's hard-working mix of skewed classical ballet, vaudeville and Victorian theatrical magic makes for "an inventive entertainment", says David Nice on the Arts Desk. You'll get your money's worth simply from the wonders of Crowley's designs and the occasional treacle quotient is fine for seasonal cheer.

What they don't like

"It's all very clever but what we're lacking is any driving force or dramatic tension", because this Alice is essentially a bystander, not the headstrong girl of the book, says Lindsey Winship in the Evening Standard. Go to be visually wowed and pleasantly entertained but don't expect a mind-altering trip.

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