Alice’s adventures at the Eastgate

ALICE by Wheeldon,      , Choreography - Christopher Wheeldon , Designs - Bob Crowley, Lighting design - 'Natasha Katz, The Royal Ballet 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/
ALICE by Wheeldon, , Choreography - Christopher Wheeldon , Designs - Bob Crowley, Lighting design - 'Natasha Katz, The Royal Ballet 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

Alice follows the White Rabbit into a world of adventure live from Covent Garden this month.

The Eastgate Theatre is bringing The Royal Ballet’s glittering production of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale to Peebles through a live link-up, with colourful characters, a magical score and a brilliantly imagined Wonderland.

Christopher Wheeldon’s full-length ballet is an exuberant piece of storytelling featuring an instantly recognizable cast of characters that include a tap-dancing Mad Hatter, a tetchy White Rabbit and a raucously bad-tempered Queen of Hearts.

Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland arrived on the stage in 2011 with a burst of colour, theatrical magic and inventive choreography. It was The Royal Ballet’s first new full-length work since 1995 and was greeted with delight by audiences.

To create his ballet, choreographer Wheeldon drew on everything from classical ballet to tap and Broadway musicals.

This open-armed embrace of all styles of dance, combined with a rigorous regard for the classical tradition, is part of what makes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so vibrant and such fun.

Meanwhile, Joby Talbot’s score combines contemporary soundworlds with sweeping melodies that gesture to ballet scores of the 19th century, and Bob Crowley’s wildly imaginative sets and costumes draw on puppetry, projections and masks to make Wonderland wonderfully real.

Alice, and the audience, encounter a cast of extraordinary characters, from the highly-strung Queen of Hearts, who performs a hilarious send-up of The Sleeping Beauty’s famous Rose Adage, to dancing playing cards, a sinuous caterpillar and a tap-dancing Mad Hatter. Alice and the Knave of Hearts dance a tender, loving pas de deux of delicate beauty.

But the ballet does not avoid the darker undercurrents of Lewis Carroll’s story – a nightmarish kitchen, an eerily disembodied Cheshire Cat and the unhinged tea party are all created in vivid detail.

Wheeldon, along with composer Talbot and designer Crowley, have created a genuine family ballet in the spirit of Carroll’s much-loved children’s classic, but the ballet is above all a brilliant realization of Carroll’s zany dream-world featuring stunning choreography, a colourful score and ingenious stage-magic.

Led by Director Kevin O’Hare, The Royal Ballet is Britain’s largest ballet company and is based in the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.

It has a wide-ranging repertory showcasing the great classical ballets which are not only seen at the Royal Opera House but can be viewed world-wide via televised and cinematic performances, outdoor big screen performances, international touring and through the work of the company’s education department.

National Theatre Live is an exciting initiative to broadcast live performances of the best of British theatre to cinemas around the world. Audiences can enjoy the thrill of a live performance in a wide range of venues.

The Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is at the Eastgate Theatre on Tuesday, December 16 at 7.15pm. Tickets are £17, and £10 for schoolchildren. Call the box office on 01721 725777, or see www.eastgatearts.com