Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“A mesmerizing performance by François Pandolfo...directed with passion by Angharad Lee”

At the Other Room

difficult/stage & the Other Room- Alix in Wundergarten , Underbelly Med Quad , August 19, 2016
At the Other Room by difficult/stage & the Other Room- Alix in Wundergarten From “the Scotsman” 16h August

“The programme note for Alix in Wundergarten speaks of the history of radio drama, from the invention of a telephone designed to record in theatres in 1881, to the threat of being overwhelmed by television in the 1960s. The stage is set with a delightfully nostalgic recording studio, of faded browns and floral fabrics, where a solicitous young man, Fabian, welcomes visitors effusively, congratulating them one by one on joining the radio audience. It’s the beginning of a mesmerizing performance by François Pandolfo, the show’s writer.

Nick Steed, a smooth older radio star (authoritatively played by Dewi Rhys Williams, a veteran TV and radio actor) has been recruited for a recording of Alice in Wonderland. As he tries to dominate performances by Gael (Dean Rehman) and Elin-Rose (Jess Lloyd-Jones), a kind of theatrical carnage begins. Elin-Rose arrives with an expression of permanent cross-eyed surprise, and voracious appetites for anything that hints at Eat Me. By the end this gentle studio scene has gone utterly haywire, in a superbly performed theatre of the absurd, a wonderful piece of mad hattery that leaves you with little idea of what happened, or why, and not caring to know. Watching Fabian maniacally implode is a delight.”

From “Three Weeks” 12th August

“What just happened? Alice probably asked herself the same question after visiting Wonderland. In some ways, Alice’s journey has many synergies with the mental deconstruction that takes place during rehearsals, and this is what difficult|stage brilliantly picked up on. ‘Alix in Wundergarten’ starts like an innocent play, with a group of stressed actors trying to record a radio version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. But here, theatre is Wonderland and the actors the quaint creatures that inhabit it. They have a tendency to break into song and dance and German… and to slip out of reality. But what is reality on stage? Both realistic and surrealistic, unsettling and hilarious, offensive and touching, ‘Alix in Wundergarten’ leaves you confused and in awe. It was unforgettable.”

From “the List” 16th August

“This is a radio play reading of Alice in Wonderland quite unlike any other. There's bizarre musical mash-ups; casual racism, sexism, an attempt at autoerotic asphyxiation and a strangely sensual Swiss Roll. Something, in fact, to offend even the most broad-minded of Fringe goers. Yet, it all coheres into a psychedelic jam pondering the nature of the most fragile of egos:
those belonging to the not-too-humble famous thespian.

Fabian (playwright and actor Francois Pandolfo) is an over-zealous director trying to keep some kind of semblance of order when recording with his unruly team: musical theatre veteran Nick (Dewi Rhys Williams), a more hubristic hybrid of Tom Jones and Michael Ball; Gael (Dean Rehman) a narcissist of a thousand voices; and Elin-Rose (Jess Lloyd-Jones) an otherworldly understudy. All have their own unique way of working, and Fabian, on the verge of a full-scale breakdown, may as well try to catch goldfish using mittens. Actors bicker, sneer and generally slip over their sense of entitlement in ways which delight and confound in equal measure.

Once it's accepted that fourth walls are in fact made of spongy things, there is a logic – of sorts. Not just a great conceit on paper, but beautifully written by Pandolfo, and directed with passion by Angharad Lee, it's a joyful slide down the rabbit hole. When the audience are spat back out onto the street, and into the real world, it feels as though limbs have been rearranged. Absolutely inspired lunacy – Difficult Stage are equal opportunity offenders.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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