A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to Alice’s Adventures Underground. Hidden away under Waterloo station, an immersive world awaits with cocktails, Flamingo Croquet and much, much more! As part of the Bloggers’ Press Night, we also got the chance to speak to some of the actors after the show, including Matthew Crouzieres. Having been with the show since its 2015 run, Matthew plays five different characters and estimates he’s done a certain routine over a thousand times!
Rona Kelly: What characters do you play in the show?
Matthew Crouzieres: We all have different teams and in Team Tweedle, you play Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Cook, the Doormouse, the Court Guard as you see me now! The Court Guard is more of a rest track, because Tweedles as you saw is quite physically intensive, same with Doormouse. And Cook is very dialogue heavy. So most teams have what we would consider a rest role. That doesn’t mean we work any less; it just means I have one line tonight, so I don’t have to strain my voice. But we also operate the Jabberwocky which is a massive puppet, it’s probably our biggest puppet! And getting that right is quite stressful as well. So it’s great that we’ve got the variation.
Every night feels like a completely different story. Everyone’s got the same script, but that’s just a skeleton to the character which you embody. So if you came back tomorrow, Jack Dorning and I will be playing very high energy Tweedles, we go running round the room! And then there are two other girls who have very Harlequinn, bendy, contortist Tweedles. There are five different Alices, seven different Rabbits, so there are so many different versions of this show. You can never see the same one twice. It’s almost impossible, given the amount of variations and how long we are running for. Everyone sees certain characters, like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And then there are only ones which each suit sees: so the Diamonds get Humpty Dumpty. It’s good fun and it keeps it nice and fresh for the actors as well.
RK: Do you have a favourite character?
My favourite is the Tweedles, I really enjoy playing them. You get to play on that apparatus every night. It’s harness work, it’s high energy and it’s a nice double act. So when you build a relationship with another actor, it’s really strong. We do Tweedles twenty four times a night. So that four minute routine you see, we will do twice in a fifteen minute section. And because we have twelve entries, it means we do it twenty four times a night! So you are doing it a lot, which is great. It’s like you had five months of rehearsals in the space of a week: you try things, you see what works and when you find something the audience love, you can build on it and build on it. I did this show in 2015 and by the end of the run, I’d done that Tweedles routine over a thousand times! Literally! So I come into this show still wanting to do it, because it’s one of my favourite roles and it’s so much fun and it’s so fresh. And the look on people’s faces every-time you dive of the bed and see them flinch…
RK: We were terrified!
It’s great. We’re behind the masks and we see everyone walk into the room and say, ‘Oh my goodness…I don’t want to be in here right now!’ It’s like something out of a nightmare. But that’s something I think a lot of immersive theatre can do: it takes you into those positions where you would normally be uncomfortable. So it’s a safe way to experience some of those emotions.
RK: And how have audiences been reacting to the immersive side?
MC: You don’t know how twenty eight people or fourteen or fifty six are going to react at any given point. Someone will always be a loud mouth and want to join in with a bit more, which is great because we can use that. Other times, people are very quiet and timid and maybe English isn’t their first language. So you’ve got to help overcome those boundaries and barriers. Some might see it as a challenge, but we all relish it. It’s the variations that we enjoy. We all have the lines which we love…I wouldn’t go so far as to say we like things going wrong, but the odd spanner in the works keeps it fresh!
Thanks to RAW PR for organising the Bloggers’ Press Night