Alice’s Adventures Underground
The Vaults, London
Seen on September 14th, 2017
Reviewed by Jade Prince
On Thursday evening I took a little tumble down to the vaults and into their enchanting world of Wonderland. The hour and a half immersive experience takes you to every possible destination in Wonderland to meet the iconic characters everybody knows so well but DON’T TOUCH THE TARTS! This unique immersive theatre experience is back due to popular demand after its successful run last year and is inspiring a whole new world of immersive theatre.
Heading into the venue you were really transported to Wonderland. The theming was great from the onset. My friend and I had decided to get there early as we wanted to enjoy what was on offer in ‘The Wonderland Bar’. However, disappointment quickly set in. I like to make my reviews of the whole theatre experience as honest as possible and this is what I shall continue to do for this review. As we collected our tickets we were informed that we had to drop all coats and bags off at the cloak room, which was expected. The only issue being was that we then had to pay for this service. I found it very wrong to inforce a £1 per item charge for something that was required. I paid and put this issue to the side. To the bar for cocktails! More disappointment. The drinks menu looked great and I was so ready to try one of the themed cocktails. I ended up paying £9 for a small glass of squash instead of a cocktail. Watching the bar tender pour the drink and it only fill half the small glass which was then rectified with…more ice! There was no thought or care in making the drinks. I felt rather cheated. Which is a shame because the cocktail menu looked brilliant with magic elements to each cocktail. It wasn’t until we bumped into Rhea (FOH manager) that the night started to improve. She was so helpful. Had all the information we were looking for regarding the bar after the show. You could tell she was a great person who really loves her job! Thank you, Rhea!
Right, enough with the bar and on with the show! I really liked the way that an announcement was made through the bar when calling the people through for the next time slot. The Vaults are very strict on their ‘no late comers admitted’ policy so did everything and more to make sure that you were there for your entry time. Multiple announcements, projection images/clock on the main wall by the box office and even stage management and FOH running around gathering the stragglers. The way Alice’s Adventures Underground works is that throughout the evening performance times are staggered at every quarter of the hour where a new group will enter the show. The last group of the night were called forward and we headed into our waiting pen. The excitement grew as we had no idea what to expect and this excitement was fuelled further with the little glimpses of the entrance tunnel. Wow! Is all I can say about the first room/pre-show room. 10/10 for the theming. We had a little time to explore the whole room. It was so interactive, there were books to pick up, pianos to play, teddy bears and so much more. There were some elements of distortion which really worked well for the beginning of the transition from reality to Wonderland. Holograms of a girl appeared in different locations around the room when the show was about to start just to add a little more to the disorientation.
Then the real adventure down to Wonderland began! Into a life size zoetrope, the story telling continued. We then finally came into contact with the first of many actors. It was great to actually be given the choice as to which way we went through the maze: eat me or drink me! At this point the group split in two, red and black. We were taken through to the next section (Wonderland Boarding) and given some of the maze rules, obviously all in keeping with the theme and slipped into the script wonderfully. Then it was time to be split further, into our suits. It was really cute how we were all handed an individual card from a pack which obviously stated our suit and number. I personally found that the experience worked a lot better when we were in these smaller groups. It enabled a lot more interaction and a lot less pushing. It was a much more comfortable size in comparison to the larger group initially which was far too big.
We were taken threw the warren of rooms and I won’t go into detail with all of the rooms as it will make this post much longer than it is already, also, I don’t want to spoil all the fun! My personal favourite room was Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. That room was completely unexpected and very daunting to enter. Two giant cribs with both characters stood motionless on them as we were instructed to sit on the teeny tiny benches. And then the fun began. My jaw was on the floor that entire scene!
Whilst in these smaller groups, we had the same ‘joker’ leading us around and this was a great opportunity to get involved. The improvisation from the actors was wonderful and the attention to details made the whole experience. People in the group would say something at the beginning and sure enough later on in the experience the actor themselves would make reference to it. In one of the earlier rooms my name was revealed and boy, did they play on that! Just a lovely personal touch that made you feel part of the show, very memorable.
The groups were slowly brought back together later in the show for certain scenes of a more complex nature. The first being the mock turtle which was based in a really elaborate, beautiful set. This section in particular was initially very slow but picked up towards the end of the song when the rain effect started. Again, very unexpected! Just like the rest of the show, everything was so unexpected. There was no way I was able to predict anything that would happen next. Another great element I loved was that it did not matter where you were positioned in the group, you were still very much part of the action and did not miss anything. Between rooms there was a great deal of movement so this positioning was altered all the time. Sometimes I was towards the front; other times in the middle of the group and never felt excluded at the back.
At the end of the show the whole group came back as a whole for the finale. What a finale it was! Details from everyone’s show were revealed as we didn’t all have the same experience! A beautiful piece of puppetry work was witnessed (but to be honest all the puppetry throughout was stunning!). It was a great location for everyone to come together and for the final bows to be taken. That was one thing I was concerned about, that the cast would not get the recognition they deserved after the show but this was no issue and they most certainly received it. And then our journey into reality began. This was such an epic experience!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been done so many times however this version’s style had a whole new spin on the story and I felt like I was experiencing it all for the very first time. So refreshing! The adventure isn’t around for much longer so beg, borrow and steal to get a ticket!
It only has a limited time left and is booking until September 23rd. Do not miss this one! https://www.thevaults.london/alices-adventures-undetground
I cannot wait to see the next immersive experience at The Vaults, Hair the musical, opening this October for its 50th anniversary. I am very intrigued to see how a musical will work in this type of theatre. https://www.thevaults.london/hair-the-musical
Be sure to check out The Vaults as they have so many incredible events on: https://www.thevaults.london/about-c10fk