Presented by State Opera South Australia
Reviewed 5 July 2019
A representation of the musings and recollections of a man who wrote nonsense has to venture into the absurd. Although a reflection on the life of Rev C L Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the tale is not factual and as such it is confusing. In this telling of The Hunting of the Snark, a famous Carroll poem, the frequent question ‘What is the Snark’ is never answered; but what it represented to Dodson in the depths of his mind is hinted at. Is it the elusive happiness or the dark edges of depression? Is it a Snark or a Boojum? Through the grown-up Alice we are shown some of what was behind the teller of fascinating nonsense stories; secrets rumoured, innocence lost.
Dodson himself, played by Adam Goodburn, tells the story and introduces the characters, including his alter ego Lewis Carroll, played by Brock Roberts. Both Goodburn and Roberts show us different aspects of this character; Goodburn more as he (Dodson) sees himself and Roberts as the world saw him. Both play the character with conviction showing the experience they bring.
Alice (the younger) is Katrina Mackenzie, who sings beautifully, and Mrs Harrison (older Alice) is Joanna McWaters, playing the grown-up looking back through different eyes. After a slowing of the pace in Act One, the Caterpillar (Mark Oates) takes the ridiculousness up a notch gaining the biggest laugh. Other silliness is provided by the song of Tweedledum and Tweedledee with their dance. The production is well cast from Joshua Rowe, who plays the Bellman, to the group of youngsters who make up the Winter School Ensemble.
This piece, written by Martin and Peter Wesley-Smith is as silly as the original and director Joseph Mitchell has done well to make it a cohesive piece. It is The Hunting of the Snark but it is more: the silliness has a depth that is unexpected. Simone Romaniuk’s design, reminiscent of a playground, allows the pieces to be whatever is needed, helping the flow. Musically Warwick Stengards conducts the small ensemble and holds the vocals together very well.
An enjoyable production, a little unsettling and confusing but all Lewis Carroll’s work had that edge.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Rating out of 5: 4