The excitement was rising as people queued for the final Alice in Wasteland performance and closing show after party; a lycra clad gentleman provided a wee warm up gig on the street, demonstrating his leather whip skills. Soon enough we were ushered in to the industrial unit, home to Edinburgh’s back alley club venue, Studio 24, walking past performers operating a smoke circle machine and welcoming us down the rabbit hole. The performance is marketed as a 2 hour show, however part of that involves easing the audience into the upside down world of Alice in Wasteland, buying a drink at the bar while enjoying some good drum and bass, appreciating the post-Wonderland dystopia stage set and participating in a pre-show game of pass the bin bag! There was an eclectic mix of people in the audience and many had gone to special efforts to dress-up for the occasion, easily passing as one of the performers.
Presented by Pyratrix Circus, Alice in Wasteland is a musical circus bonanza! They have wealth of exceptional dancers, live musicians, aerialist, clowns, acrobats, singers and rappers. In a contemporary twist on the classic Lewis Carroll tale, Alice, a bored businesswoman ruled by consumerism and materialism ingests some strange substances and gets taken to another dimension of the weird and wonderful! Utilising the traditional sequence of events in the tale of Alice in Wonderland, the performance explores societies relationship with waste and the environmental issues of today’s world and promote a radical social change. This original tale creates a deeper message about our own wasteland we have produced with our urban sprawl. How we waste time on consumerism, gluttony and materialism rather than acting on creating a collective change. Images of poverty, war, consumerist culture, politicians, psychedelic graphics and the performing characters flash across two large screens either side of the stage.
Our senses are truly spoilt by the multi-media theatre experience. The detail and creativity in the colourful surreal stage and strobe lights dancing around the set is hypnotising. The cabaret / party circus style tricks are supported by live instrumentation and an electrical soundtrack composed by the cast themselves. The creative costumes are far from average, each highly unique and an art form in themselves. The Queen of Hearts costume is especially intricate. The queen of buying, materialism and submission into obeying, consuming more and thinking less, had a part of a shopping trolley to attach the rear of her bustle dress. The sinister looking Madhatter, a ‘rich’ man of experience, laughter and love, states “Quality of life is not measured on how much we consume”. To which the queen replies, “Off with is head!” Tweedledum and Tweedledee performed by two sisters with long blonde hair in skin tight lycra suits dance, tap and sing their way through the dream-like experience. The white rabbit sports white brogues as ears and the beatboxing caterpillar lives in a wheelie bin. The narrative spliced between circus arts can be a bit confusing in parts, however visually this production is very stimulating and surreal. Nothing is quite as it seems at Alice in Wasteland and you will ask yourself “Have I gone mad?” and well, “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
Being the last performing night the madness carried on until the small hours, 5am. The closing show party saw performances from the performing cast Katch Pyro, My Bad Sister, Pauly Piper, Doghouse, Burdy and The Girobabies rounding off an exceptionally marvelous experience. Pyratrix Circus was only performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for 4 days, however hopefully they will return next year. They are ones to look out for!
Reviewer : Sarah Lewis