Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The Alice Look

An Aladdin's cave of antique dollhouses and Alice in Wonderland memorabilia - probably not on your list of "things you might expect to see in Bethnal Green" - unless you've stumbled across the hidden gem that is the V&A Museum of Childhood. Perfect for big and little kids alike - and by big, I do mean over 25 - it really is a treasure trove of a place to visit... Unfortunately, I didn't have time to scope it out fully, but I had to catch their (free) exhibition on "The Alice Look".

When it comes to literary characters, few have proven as influential as Lewis Carroll's 150-year-old creation - and, from Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For" video to the awe-inspiring dance-based reinterpretations by the Royal Ballet and hip-hop supremos ZooNation which ran concurrently at the Royal Opera House over the Christmas period, the Alice effect shows little sign of letting up - I even got the chance to try her band for size myself in my theatre company's own physical theatre-based interpretation last year.

So just what is it about Alice? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's probably not the timelessness of white pinnies and universally-flattering nature of horizontally-striped socks - it's down to the unceasing human desire to believe in magic and possibility (or impossibility) - a desire that, as this exhibition illustrates - seems to transcend time and place. From 19th century English schoolgirls to 21st century Harajuku girls, the world has spent a century and a half hoping to stumble across its very own rabbit holes...

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