Alix In Wundergarten
Difficult Stage bludgeon any notions of taboos and real life in this dark comedy satire
This is a radio play reading of Alice in Wonderland quite unlike any other. There's bizarre musical mash-ups; casual racism, sexism, an attempt at autoerotic asphyxiation and a strangely sensual Swiss Roll. Something, in fact, to offend even the most broad-minded of Fringe goers. Yet, it all coheres into a psychedelic jam pondering the nature of the most fragile of egos: those belonging to the not-too-humble famous thespian.
Fabian (playwright and actor Francois Pandolfo) is an over-zealous director trying to keep some kind of semblance of order when recording with his unruly team: musical theatre veteran Nick (Dewi Rhys Williams), a more hubristic hybrid of Tom Jones and Michael Ball; Gael (Dean Rehman) a narcissist of a thousand voices; and Elin-Rose (Jess Lloyd-Jones) an otherworldly understudy. All have their own unique way of working, and Fabian, on the verge of a full-scale breakdown, may as well try to catch goldfish using mittens. Actors bicker, sneer and generally slip over their sense of entitlement in ways which delight and confound in equal measure.
Once it's accepted that fourth walls are in fact made of spongy things, there is a logic – of sorts. Not just a great conceit on paper, but beautifully written by Pandolfo, and directed with passion by Angharad Lee, it's a joyful slide down the rabbit hole. When the audience are spat back out onto the street, and into the real world, it feels as though limbs have been rearranged. Absolutely inspired lunacy – Difficult Stage are equal opportunity offenders.
Underbelly Med Quad, until 29 Aug (not 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28), 7.10pm, £10--£11 (£9--£10).