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Warren Graves.

Toronto, Playwrights Canada, c1982.
40pp, paper, $3.50.
ISBN 0-88754-199-2.

Grades 10 and up.
Reviewed by Jo-Anne Naslund.

Volume 11 Number 1.
1983 January.

Cleverly drawing upon Lewis Carroll's words and characters, this two-act play dramatically interprets the origin of Alice in Wonderland. It opens with a garden fete hosted by Reverend Duckworth on the grounds of St. Peter's church where the invited guests include Charles Dodgson, Alice and Lorina Liddell, Pangbourne, and Mrs. Huntingdon-Smith. Having spent a sleepless night anticipating the excitement of the fete, Alice is disillusioned when she finds it tedious and boring. She then drifts off into a fantasy world. Special lighting effects and a projected image of a glowing Cheshire cat transport Alice from the real world to the fantastic. She then encounters the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Duchess, the Dormouse, and eventually the tyrannical Queen of Hearts. All are obvious character parallels from her real world, as they are in fact played by the same actors. The tea-time banter abounds with word play, and the croquet game with the flamingo mallet and hedgehog croquet ball remain true to Lewis Carroll humour. During a recitation of the Lobster Quadrille, Alice falls asleep. The Dormouse's parting words to Alice are, "Tell him to put us in a book." Alice then awakens to find Dodgson and learns from him that she has slept through the entire fete. She tries to tell him about the Queen, the Dormouse, the White Rabbit, et al., but Dodgson chides her and threatens not to tell her anymore stories that will give her nightmares. As the play ends, Dodgson agrees though to try and write Alice a proper book.

The play is neither cute nor sentimental. It remains true to Lewis Carroll's writing style, and the dialogue reads well. Successfully interwoven are many familiar elements, but the meaning of the play is only enhanced not dependent on the audience's knowing about them beforehand. Generally this would be challenging fare for high school drama students, but it would be well within their capabilities. It offers opportunity for choral speaking, character development, special staging and technical effects, and should promote background reading and discussion of the children's classic.

Jo-Anne Naslund, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
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