FANTASTIC BEASTS OF ALICE

Posted on 15 May 2019 By Rose Mulready

Christopher Wheeldon's Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© is alive with leaping frogs, languid flamingos, rabbits, mock turtles and a disappearing cat. 

Important messages are passed between the Duchess and the Queen by the Frog Footman and the Fish Footman. Their eyes are certainly big, but are they on the prize?

Lucien Xu and Shaun Andrews. Photography Kate Longley

It's always dangerous playing games with the Queen of Hearts ... these pretty flamingos end up as mallets in her game of croquet, and the unfortunate (and very adorable) hedgehogs are the balls!

Artists of the Australian Ballet / Steven Heathcote and Amy Harris. Photography Lynette Wills / Little guest artists. Photography Kate Longley

Alice meets these odd creatures in a sea of her own tears, and they have a 'Caucus Race' to dry out. In Lewis Carroll's book, Alice's sisters, Edith and Lorena, become the Eaglet and the Lory (lorikeet). In Wheeldon's ballet, the Eaglet and the Lory appear in the Caucus Race, along with a monkey, a beagle, a rooster, a cat and other cacophonous creatures.

Ako Kondo and artists of The Australian Ballet. Photography Daniel Boud

The Turtle in Wheeldon's Caucus Race is a reference to Carroll's Mock Turtle, a clever play on the Victorian dish mock-turtle soup, which was made from beef off-cuts. In Tenniel's illustration of this moody creature, it has the head and hoofs of a cow and a turtle's shell.

Corey Herbert. Photography Kate Longley

Alice would never have reached Wonderland without following the White Rabbit.

Adam Bull. Photography Daniel Boud

The Caterpillar, in Wheeldon's ballet, has all the splendour of the Indian rajah he morphs from - complete with Swarovski-spangled feet.

Jake Mangakahia. Photography

How to make Carroll's elusive Cheshire Cat, who appears and disappears, sometimes leaving only his smile behind, translate to the ballet stage? Cue some inspired puppetry - and a soundtrack of mews and purrs from composer Joby Talbot.