So I may have flopped a bit with writing Curtain Call Chat posts, but to be honest I haven’t loved the majority of the shows I’ve seen recently so I didn’t really want to write on them. To say the least, there have been a lot of drug deals, dogs eating people and questionable murders, which ain’t exactly my cup of tea – so no blog posts. However, thankfully, ‘Wonderland’ has restored my faith in the world of theatre!! Granted, it wasn’t all boppy musical numbers and chunks of glitter which is my usual pick of the day but nevertheless, it gave a minty, warm breath of life to the history of the 1980’s mining community that sadly to my hip and funky millennial generation isn’t very well known … unless, of course, you invest in two years of the pain that is history A level like this gal. But anyway, lets get chatting about something that is pretty darn WONDERful, aye?
Setting the scene –
First off lets talk set, because wowzers. After seeing some pretty standard sets in the shows I’ve seen over the past month, this was hands down the best one … granted its competition was some stools and lamps in one play that I saw but regardless the set for ‘Wonderland’ was astonishing. The stage was primarily filled with a giant bridge structure which framed not only the setting of the mine but also served as a perch for the police during riots as well as a steamy shower station … *queue swooning*. But beyond this there were tunnels situated at the left and right wings as well as upstage centre which served as entrance and exit points for the cast, I mean how blummin’ cool?!? I’m talking actual tunnels people, not doorway cutouts, I mean you could see into a tunnel. The fact that these set pieces didn’t just serve an aesthetic purpose was such a relief to me because they ultimately did add a lot to the immersion of the performance – I mean who doesn’t want to see a band of mining men stride out of the tunnels in a beam of orange light like coal-loving Supermen? Then to top it off came the lift. Granted it was just a metal cage placed centre stage that remained stationary, but with the use of flickering luminous lighting, the sounds of metal chains cranking and the actor’s crafty swaying and jiggling in unison with these effects it gave for a pretty convincing portrayal of a lift descending underground which I, of course, adored.
Dazzling lights –
While the set certainly exceeded every single one of my expectations, the lighting did all that and more – it thoroughly knocked my Christmas Snoopy themed socks off. Obviously, this is a show centred around mining and what do miners have?! You’ve got it, helmets with lamps, oooh boyyy. You have not experienced mesmerising theatre lighting until you sit in a 447 seat capacity theatre which is plunged into total darkness, with only three lamps’ white beams of light illuminating the room as they cut across one another while surveying the audience. Maybe I’m a little simple-minded when it comes down to lighting effects but I thought it was utterly breathtaking, not only to jazz up the performance but also as a means of introducing the audience to the world of the miners, allowing us to potentially see their mines as they did. The use of the head torches continued throughout the performance, being equally enticing to me during scenes where the onstage lighting would switch to an aqua blue, casting turquoise shadows across the stone walls of the stage, while the group of men were illuminated by a tangerine glow from the head down thanks to their trusty lamps.
Also, did I mention that this show contained singing?? Did somebody say MUSICALS?! Granted, it wasn’t a musical, but as someone who constantly craves musical productions, regardless of whether its a three-hour performance of Les Miserables or just an impromptu performance of ‘Bop to the Top’ from High School Musical, I felt pretty darn satisfied. Hands down my favourite scene was one in which the older miners lectured the mining newbies of the show on the politics of mining, there was not only singing, choreography, some hearty drum beats and a guitar but to top it off they had an ACCORDION. I LOVED IT. Plus it helped to get harsher topics across to the audience, as the elders were technically (teasingly) beating up the younger miners on stage, in a much lighter and more digestible fashion.
A Well Deserved Standing Ovation –
This use of comedy and music in order to convey points to the audience was utilised throughout the play as it did tackle harsher historical topics, specifically the deaths that emerged from the 1980’s miners strikes, but it was done well. There were sexy jokes and political digs but at the end of the day the cast’s performances were tasteful and, in my humble opinion, justly served the tales of the time. Without wanting to give the plot away I do want to give a massive sparkling star to Jack Quarton because his performance was just fab. He gave us funny, he gave us distressed, he gave us saucy nurse, he was the playdough of the acting world – 100% versatile and something everyone just shamelessly loves. All of the other actors were amazing in their own rights but I just felt that Jack Quarton deserved a special lil shoutout because I adored his character, an absolute gem. Besides that though the final scene was also breathtaking, with the actors on stage reading out facts about the events of the mining strikes, to then remove their helmets as a mark of respect to an unfurling flag of Welbeck (the show’s primary setting) in order to pay their respects. It was just astounding. Anyway, I hope you all have a fabulous week, thank you so much for reading my little ramblings,
Lots of love, hugs and happy reading,