Review: A Nightmare in Wonderland

Jul 08 2022.

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Returning to the Lionel Wendt for the very first time since the pandemic, A Nightmare in Wonderland by the Mad Hatter’s Collective was a brilliant reminder as to why theatre was dearly missed during the last two years. On the 1st and 2nd of July 2022, Lewis Carroll’s beloved wonderland took a dark and grim turn on stage with the psychological thriller written by Wayne White. Alice, played by Sashyani Rodrigo, is committed at the Wittsend Asylum under the care of one Dr. Marcus (Visura Silva) and Nurse Margrett (Janindi Perera) for psychological help and, as the play alludes, as a suspect in a series of gruesome murders.

Alice’s mind is corrupted by the memories of Wonderland and the cherished characters that once made wonderland so magical turns out to be, well, not so wonderful. Led by Cheshire (Jemiah Sourjah), the Mad Hatter (Mareeza Randeniya), the White Rabbit (Nethmi Gunasekera), and the playful Tweedle (Yehana Perera) team up to taunt Alice in the guise of protecting her - whether they are indeed protecting her was left for the audience to conclude. Tasked with uncovering the truth behind the murders, the Inspector and Constable Jenkins (Vihan Wickramasurendra) aided by the lovely Camila (Shehani Guruge) follow the trail of evidence that ultimately points to Alice as the perpetrator. What we thought would be a finely wrapped finale of the good guys winning and the bad guys losing, in fact, opted to leave the audience shocked to the very end – Alice and her wonderland friends only added more casualties to their list. 

A Nightmare in Wonderland was a well-paced outplay. While the first half of the show lulled the audience into a sense of understanding, the second half of the show was pure, unadulterated chaos that had everyone wondering ‘what on earth just happened?!’ Brilliantly directed by Reihan Stephens and Wayne White and produced by Johann ‘Paala’ Perera, hats off to the 10-member cast that did a fantastic job of bringing pure madness to the stage. Personally, we thought Sashyani Rodrigo delivered a phenomenal performance in her role as Alice, brilliantly executing the contrast between sane and insane so seamlessly that we even had goosebumps during certain scenes! 

Congratulations to the Mad Hatter’s Collective for bringing a level of insanity the audience simply wasn’t prepared for! Here’s what some of the members of the audience had to say.

“I thought it was a very good show. I’m happy to see original theatre. The show was fantastic and they pulled it off among all the difficulties these days. Well done! My favourite was Alice – she gave a standout performance”

“It was amazing, something different from the usual Alice in Wonderland. I really enjoyed it. My favourite character was Chesire”

“It’s a great production and it’s nice to be back at the Wendt after everything. I know there’s a lot going on but I’m glad they went ahead with this production because it gives people that much-needed respite from everything. I’m really liking how they paced the story and I like the set design and I’m loving how they’ve fleshed out the character arcs in this story. My favourite character was the Mad Hatter”

Dr. Kamal
“It’s been a very interesting thriller and medical drama. As a doctor, I appreciate how they have shown exactly how patients are evaluated on their history and are treated. A great play. Naturally, my favourite character was Dr. Marcus!”

“The play was superb. Everybody acted well and they all did a good job. I thought Cheshire did a great job in her role”

“It was really interesting. I honestly didn’t think it would be that heavy to take in but it was so good. The pronunciations and acting were on point. My favourite was Alice – she did such an amazing job”

“It’s really good. Alice was wonderful”

“I really liked it. I think it brought the real essence of Alice in Wonderland to the surface and I liked how the actors were given space to expand into their characters. I thought Tweedle did fantastically well. It was directed very well and I loved the finale! In a time like this, where art doesn’t have the space to thrive, this is very much appreciated.”

“I think the play showed the complexities of mental health and how even the best of professionals might not be able to diagnose it immediately and that it’s a slow process that takes time and how we shouldn’t be quick to judge. So good play. I thought Alice gave a really dynamic performance”

“It was brilliant, really, really well done. Extremely well-paced. The foreshadowing and the allusions to the murders were well illustrated through the actions and the dialogue. I thought they used the stage well and I enjoyed how they shifted the narratives purely with the lighting. As for the cast, I thought Tweedle was extremely talented. Alice was definitely one of the best performances in the play. Chesire comes off so beautifully and the Hatter and the Rabbit had brilliant characterisation. The Inspector really brought out the juxtaposition between reality and the madness of Wonderland. Brilliant cast!”

Pictures by Pradeep Dilrukshana


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