Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Discovering Alice's Kensington Wonderland
There really is no better way to discover the most picturesque spots of Kensington and Chelsea than by bike. This weekend I let Alice, and the Exquisite Folly Theatre Company, take me by the hand on a cycling tour through a West London Wonderland in their interactive interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale.
The fun started in the grassy riverside location of Cremorne Gardens, before we followed Alice and her slightly dotty new acquaintances through a selection of Chelsea's most beautiful green spaces, Brompton Cemetery, quirky mews locations before eventually finishing up in Holland Park. In such idyllic scenery, it's easy to get drawn into the story, and the cast members were fun, dynamic and playful - each playing several different, and charmingly barmy roles, and encouraging the audience to get involved in the action (watch out you don't lose your head!).
The interpretation was set in the 1930s, and the company took advantage of the quaint locations and added authentic costumes, chintzy tea sets and lured us in with plenty of tea cakes, fudge, juice and tarts (of course). We met a wonderfully uptight colonel, a totally sozzled sailor, the butler with the world's largest grin, and a marvellously impetuous Queen and her deluded and self-important King, amongst others. Alice and Woger Rabbit were our constant companions and guides, and the cycle volunteers played their part excellently shepherding a large group of novices around the borough on what was a busy Saturday afternoon.
The whole production was fantastic, and felt delightfully raw and improvised at times, with lots of amusing ad lib interactions with pedestrians and a wonderful commitment to recreating a different world, even when the action was taking place in public parks to the stares, and confused questions, of passers by not in on the show! It was such an innovative way of getting the whole family on their bikes, and exploring the best of the borough. Full marks to Exquisite Folly and Bikeminded RBKC. I can't wait to see what they put on next.
For more details on Bikeminded initiative, and to find out about upcoming events, check out their website here.