The Hatter starts out as a tea party. Upon entering into a small theatre strewn with plastic cutlery, a very polite man in a big hat and a long coat invites everyone to have a cup of tea. There are multiple kettles of hot water and a table piled high with a wide variety of teas. There is a neat line of evenly spaced condiments on the floor, and he assures us that any of these will greatly improve our cup of tea. He is very keen on the poultry seasoning, or the onion powder. The audience slowly files in, until at last, we are ready, the lights dim and The Hatter begins.
The Hatter is an excellent play, well written and genuine. It is at once hilarious and utterly heart breaking, telling the story on one man’s quest to return to the oblivion of madness. Everything changed in Wonderland after Alice came and went, and the Mad Hatter is feeling uncomfortably sane and drifting further from Wonderland. Through singing, dancing and stories, the audience is drawn ever further from the rabbit hole and back to reality. There is plenty of audience participation for the adventurous theatre-goer.
Andrew Wade plays an amazing Hatter, in one moment giggling and whimsical, the next terrifying and savage. The Hatter is a charming, bright gentleman with darkness lurking ever closer to the surface. Time to time an uncontrollable rage bubbles up, bringing shouting and destruction with it. He is entirely likeable and charismatic, with a sweet voice, which is enough to lull us back into complacence, only to be frightened again and again.
The Hatter is playing at Studio 16 at 1555 West 7th Ave in Vancouver. Tickets are $14 and show times are Thursday, September 11 at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, September 13 at 8:15 p.m. Don’t forget your Fringe membership and don’t miss this show.
Tickets can be purchased at tickets.vancouverfringe.com.
Photos by Erin Palm and Cara Baldwin