It is a beautiful summer’s day. Alice and her sister are sitting on the riverbank. Alice’s sister is reading. Alice is fidgeting.
Alice’s sister: Alice:
Mouse: Alice: Mouse:
May I have a look at your book? Oh, it’s no good, it doesn’t have any pictures or conversations in it! And what is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?
Do find something to do, Alice! Stop being so irritating!
I wonder if I should make a daisy-chain? Oh, I can’t be bothered!
[Alice lies down and begins to doze. Her sister continues reading. A few minutes pass. Suddenly, a White Rabbit runs past Alice. She sits up. Her sister continues reading. ] Oh dear, oh dear, I shall be late!
[It takes a watch out of its waistcoat pocket then hurries on. Alice gets up and follows it. It disappears down a rabbit-hole under a hedge. Alice follows it and finds herself in a tunnel. She continues along and sees the Rabbit dip suddenly down. Alice follows and finds herself falling, very slowly, down something that resembles a deep well.]
Either this well is very deep or I am falling very slowly… I wonder what is coming? It’s too dark to see much… What are all these things? Oh, there’s shelves and cupboards and clocks and maps and all sorts… Oh, a jar of marmalade! [She picks it up but it is empty and she puts it back on another shelf as she falls past]Well, after such a fall as this I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs. I wouldn’t say anything about it even if I fell off the top of the house! Down and down! Will this fall never end? I must be getting near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be about four thousand miles, I think… yes, that’s about the right distance… I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I’ve got to? I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth? How funny it will seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think… but then I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is you know… Please Ma’am, is this New Zealand? Or Australia? [She tries to curtsey as she falls]And what an ignorant little girl she’ll think me for asking! No, it’ll never do to ask: perhaps it’s written up somewhere! Down and down! Dinah will miss me very much tonight, I should think. I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat and that’s very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder? [Sleepily] Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats? Do bats eat cats? Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?
[With a thump, she lands suddenly on a heap of sticks. She jumps up and sees the White Rabbit, hurrying away down a passage. She runs after it.]
Oh, my ears and whiskers! How late it’s getting!
[It disappears round a corner. Alice follows and finds herself in a narrow corridor lined with doors. Alice tries a couple but they are locked. She walks sadly up and down. The rabbit is no where to be seen. Suddenly she notices a little table made of glass, with nothing on it except a tiny golden key. Alice tries it in the doors but it is too small. Then she notices a low curtain and, behind it, a tiny door. She tries the key.]
[She opens the door and kneels down to look at what lies on the other side. The audience can not see it]
Oh, it is the loveliest garden I have ever seen, all full of roses and fountains! How I would love to walk in it… but I can’t get through such a tiny doorway… and even if my head would go through, it would be of very little use without the rest of me! Oh, how I wish I could close up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin. So many strange things have happened recently, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I could!
[She returns to the table and finds a little bottle on it, with ‘Drink Me’ printed on it.] Oh, this wasn’t here before! But I know I shouldn’t drink strange things out of bottles just because the label says to do so. I’ll look first and see if it is marked ‘Poison’. No, it isn’t.
[She comes out of character and walks to the edge of the stage and speaks directly to the audience. Lights down, single spot.]
Of course, children, I’m a made-up character in a make-believe world. In real life, I would never, ever eat or drink anything that my parents didn’t say was safe. But there are no parents in this dream and no one to stop me. And if I don’t drink it, the story can’t continue!
[Lights as before. Alice returns to the table and picks up the bottle.] Bottoms up! Ooh, it tastes of cherry-tart and custard and toffee and pineapple and roast turkey and hot buttered toast! [Pause] What a curious feeling! I must be closing like a telescope!
[She shrinks to ten inches high.] Oh, I must be nearly the right size to go through the door into that lovely garden. I hope I don’t keep shrinking… it might end in my going out like a candle. I wonder what a candle-flame is like when it is blown out?
[She returns to the table for the key but discovers she is now too small to reach it and the key is still there. She tries to climb up the legs but it is too slippery. Alice sits down and begins to cry, then puts on a stern, grown-up voice] Come, there’s no use crying like this. Leave off straight away!
[She spots a little box lying under the table: she opens it and finds a little cake with ‘Eat Me’ on it] Well, I’ll eat it, and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key and if it makes me grow smaller I can creep under the door. Either way, I’ll get into the garden and I don’t care what happens!
[She eats a little bit] Which way? Which way?
[She finishes it off] Curiouser and curiouser! I’m getting huge! Goodbye feet! Oh you poor things, I wonder who will put on your shoes and socks for you now! I’m sure I shan’t be able to: I shall be a great deal too far off!
[Her head strikes the roof of the hall. She picks up the golden key and hurries to the little door. All she can do is lie down and look through the key hole with one eye. She sits up and begins to cry again]
[In an adult voice] You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a great girl like you, crying in this way!
[She goes on crying until there is a huge pool of tears all around her. She stops when she hears the pattering of feet and she dries her eyes. It is the White Rabbit, in a great hurry, splendidly dressed and holding a fan and a pair of white kid gloves] Oh! The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh, won’t she be furious if I’ve kept her waiting!
If you please, sir…
[The Rabbit jumps violently and scurries away, dropping the fan and white gloves. Alice picks them up and fans herself. She puts the key back on the table] Dear, dear, how very odd things are today! And yesterday, things went on just as usual. I wonder if I’ve been changed during the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is: who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle! I’m sure I’m not Lucy, because her hair grows in ringlets and mine doesn’t at all, and I can’t be Mabel for I know all sorts of things and she, oh, she knows such a very little. Besides, she’s she and I’m I, and… oh dear, how puzzling it all is. I’ll try and see if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is – oh dear! I shall never get to twenty at that rate. However, the times tables don’t signify: let’s try Geography. London is the capital of Paris and Paris is the capital of Rome and Rome – no, that’s all wrong, I’m certain I must have been changed for Mabel. I’ll try and say ‘How doth the little…’
I’m sure those are not the right words!
[She begins to cry again. As she speaks, she puts on one of the Rabbit’s white gloves] I must be Mabel after all! I shall have to go and live in her house and have ever so many lessons to learn. Well, if I’m Mabel, I’ll stay down here! It’ll be no use their putting their heads down and saying “Come up again, dear”! I shall only look up and say “Who am I? Tell me that first and then if I like being that person I’ll come up: if not, I’ll stay down here until I’m somebody else! But, oh dear! I do wish they’d put their heads down. I am so very tired of being all alone down here. [She notices the glove] How can I have done that? I must be getting small again. Why, I’m still getting smaller! [She realizes she is fanning herself and that the fan is responsible. She drops the Rabbit’s fan hastily]That was a narrow escape! And now for the garden. Oh, but the door is shut and the key is on the table and things are worse than ever!
[As she says this, her foot slips and she falls into the pool of her own tears] I wish I hadn’t cried so much. I shall be punished for it by drowning in my own tears, I suppose. That would be very strange!
[She swims about until she hears a splashing noise and comes across a mouse that has fallen in]
Would it be of any use to speak to this mouse? Everything is so strange down here that I think it very likely it can talk: at any rate, there’s no harm in trying. O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming around here. O Mouse. Perhaps it doesn’t understand English. Perhaps it is a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror. Ou est le chat?
[The mouse leaps in fright in the water] Oh, I beg your pardon! I quite forgot you didn’t like cats!
[Shrilly] Not like cats! Would you like cats if you were me?
[Soothingly] Well, perhaps not. Don’t be angry about it. And yet I wish I could show you our cat Dinah: I think you’d take a fancy to cats if you could only see her. She is such a dear, quiet little thing: and she sits purring so nicely by the fire, licking her paws and washing her face and she is so nice to cuddle and she is so good at catching mice – oh, I beg your pardon! We won’t talk about it anymore if you’d rather not.
We indeed! As if I would talk on such a subject! Our family always hated cats: nasty, vulgar things. Don’t let me hear the word again.
I won’t indeed. Are you – are you fond of dogs? There’s such a nice little dog near our house I would like to show you A little bright-eyed terrier, you know, with oh, such long curly brown hair! And it'll fetch things when you throw them, and it'll sit up and beg for its dinner, and all sorts of things--I can't remember half of them--and it belongs to a farmer, you know, and he says it's so useful, it's worth a hundred pounds! He says it kills all the rats and - oh dear! - I'm afraid I've offended it again!'
[The mouse swims away]
Mouse, dear! Do come back again and we won’t talk about cats or dogs either, if you don’t like them.
[The mouse swims back towards her. Other creatures have appeared and the pool is becoming quite crowded] [In a trembling voice] Let us get to the shore and then I’ll tell you my history, and you’ll understand why it is I hate cats and dogs.
[Both swim to the shore]