Tea in the park with Alice

9th August 1996 at 01:00
It was the balmiest of evenings after the hottest, sunniest of summer days. The golden sunlight shining down on the London Bubble's production of The Wonderful Adventures of Alice, set against, under and between the trees of Valentine's Park in Ilford beat any lighting in any theatre anywhere.

The lushness of the park served Jonathan Petherbridge's highly visual production well. Inspiringly designed by Keith Khan, it wouldn't be stretching things to say that the set and costumes were the show.

As we promenaded all over the park to follow the action, the play quickly became one scene after another, some of them strong (the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and the Duchess's kitchen were highlights) and others highly forgettable. But even when it fell down completely, the wit of the design, some of it surreal, would keep you going. A great touch was the studding of the promenade path with talking tableaux that variously had us passing a maidservant manically polishing silver as she elucidated the class system and a mad scientist wittering on about God knows what.

Like the book of Alice, the production left you wondering who exactly it was aimed at. For children, the moving about from scene to scene in a lovely park has novelty enough. For grown-ups, the look of the thing delights the eye. Apart from the odd glimmers of wry social commentary, perhaps that's all we can expect in an Alice of any description.

Touring London parks until August 25. Details: 0171 237 4434

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