Alice: Press Reviews # 2


A bleak society ruled by tyrannical computer

Leeds Playhouse deserve great praise for commissioning, and now presenting the world premiere of a brand new rock musical, "Alice", with music by Anthony Phillips, a founder member of the Genesis group, and with book and lyrics by Richard Scott.

The book is only tenuously linked to "Alice in Wonderland" and presents a bleak computerised society tyrannically ruled by the Queen of Hearts, who is a massive computer anxious to erase all memories of the past and totally forbidding all free choice, passion and dreams.  Alice on coming of age is computer-matched with the Mathmagician, who is secretly a dissident against the power of the Queen.  He introduces her to a group of forbidden characters from the past where she discovers freedom, friendship and love, and together they all oppose the Queen and finally bring her downfall.

The production is skilfully and ingeniously directed by Nicholas Hytner and there are excellent performances by all the cast, especially those of Sally Ann Triplett as a charming Alice, gradually achieving self-awareness, Bruce Payne as the mysterious Mathmagician, Michael Skyers as the sinister Security Robot, Peter Alex Newton as the affable Cat whose dancing is a joy to watch, Femi Taylor as the Queen of Hearts, David Easter as the Hacker, brilliant in his rock 'n' roll number, Andy Hampton as the saxaphone playing caterpillar, Stanley Fleet as Professor Turtle, and Isabelle Lucas who is outstanding as the Duchess.  Other members of this excellent hard-working cast are Lisa Kent, Jane Danielle, Lisa Dawn-Hart, Alan Forrester, Ray Lewis and Rory McDermott.

The exciting and appealing music is brilliantly played by Kevin Fitzsimmonds, Alex Griegelis, Steve Topping, Alan Taylor and John O'Neill.  There are two outstanding numbers in the score: "Holding Him Again" sung by Alice and a real show-stopper "Love That Makes The World Go Round" performed by the Duchess.

The stunning designs are the work of Di Seymour, the excellent choreography, so well performed by all the company, is by Heather Seymour, the sound designer is John Del'Nero and the play is lit by Tim Thornalley.

J.R.L. Reyner, The Stage, 17th May 1984

Leeds Playhouse: World Premiere of "Alice" (Richard Scott book and lyrics, Anthony Phillips music)

Curiouser and curiouser!  I am quite certain that mathematician though he was, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson never visualised either a computer or a microchip in the late 1800s when he lived.  But here at the Playhouse we have his Alice conjured up in the year 2000 - enough to make the bones of Lewis Carroll turn over in his tomb.

In this far distant computerised high-tech world of the Queen of Hearts, Alice has come of age.  She is about to be computer dated with the magician.  They are to bring about the downfall of the Queen with the help of their friends of the Underground and to celebrate the power of music in the harsh technological world.

"Alice" was specially commissioned by the Playhouse from Richard Scott, a crisp, imaginative story teller supported by the lyrical, tuneful music of Anthony Phillips, a founder member of Genesis.  Both are old Carthusians.  They have collaborated on two albums, "1984" and "Invisible Men" but this is their first musical.  It is also Nicholas Hytner's first direction of a musical comedy although he is well known enough in operatic fields.  Here he firmly combines his feeling for ensemble work with his sure sense of climatic drama.  

The result is an enchanting journey through a zodiacal universe in search of pure love.  It starts hesitantly  but soon gathers force and cohesion with the arrival of Isabelle Lucas as the Duchess, and "Love That Makes The World Go Round" is just about the best number in the show and splendidly sung by Miss Lucas.

The insets of scenes was smoothly accomplished even to the last refuge of Professor Turtle's (a benign Stanley Fleet) academy of dancing.  It is here that the sentiment that hovered around us all night finally bloomed in the lovely glory of Alice's "Holding Him Again" for this Alice from Sally Ann Triplett was a very tender, vulnerable young girl.

Bruce Payne was her idealistic swain, the Mathmagician and Peter Alex Newton the happily agile Cat.  One could name every member of the cast but let us just put them together as one happy team of excellent talents.

The message that love will find a way may be trite but here it is unleashed on us in splendid colours and with enormous vitality and greeted at the end by a great ovation from a crowed audience.  It is a winner.

Desmond Pratt, Yorkshire Post, March 23rd 1984

Rock On!  Alice is a Wonder

The weird opening scene of the world premiere of Alice at Leeds Playhouse makes you wonder just what you've let yourself in for.

What follows leaves you in no doubt...a superb rock musical filled with energy and excitement.  You become totally absorbed from the very start desperately trying to decipher the computerworld jargon to grasp the tale.  However, as the story unfolds in a computer controlled future you are treated to breathtaking singing and dancing performances.  You never know quite what to expect next and the air of anticipation is electric.

The story tells of Alice's break-out from a world where a computer - the Queen of Hearts - controls everything to a place where she discovers freedom of will, rebellion and love.  The characters she meets on her trail of discovery provide amusing and unusual scenes with unforgettable songs.

Alice is played by Sally Ann Triplett and her computer matched Mathmagician by Bruce Payne.  Also appearing are Peter Alex Newton, Isabelle Lucas, Femi Taylor, Michael Skyers, David Easter, Andy Hampton and Stanley Fleet.

The musical specially commissioned by the Playhouse from Richard Scott and Anthony Phillips, a founder member of "Genesis", runs until April 14th.

Reviewer unknown, Leeds Weekly News

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