The Mad Hatters Gin and Tea Party 4 stars

Get ready to go down the rabbit hole and Through The Looking Glass as the people of Boston have a chance to step into Wonderland for an evening as they attend The Mad Hatters Gin and Tea Party.  Immersive theatre largely disappeared due to it being very difficult with government restrictions.  However now that many of those restriction are finally being rolled back the demand for interactive theatre may start to skyrocket as weary people crave the kind of experience only this kind of theatre can give.  When you attend the Tea Party you are not just an audience member, you are an active participant.

As may be obvious from the name, this event draws its inspiration from the novels by Lewis Carrol.  These include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Many more will be familiar with the Disney movie and possibly even the video game American McGee’s Alice.  In recent times the Mad Hatter was played by Johnny Depp in the big budget movie Alice in Wonderland.  So there are numerous ways one might orient oneself to whimsical ways of wonderland. 

When you first sign up to attend this event, you are told that it will be held at a secret location.  Although intriguing, this was later revealed to be the Cambridgeside Galleria which is a fancy name for a mall just outside Boston.  This is a great location due to it being very close to public transportation since the T and North Station are nearby.  Wonderland is now located across from the food court.

Once you enter the first thing you are asked to do is pick out hat from rows of hats upon the walls.  All of the hats are ostentatious and wacky.  It may seem like an arbitrary choice; however, this is how the characters will come to know.  For example, you might become known to them as pickled pepper due to the plastic adornments on your hat. 

Once you enter you will meet the March Hare who presents you with a potion.  For fans of Alice in Wonderland you know that this comes with the mantra of “Drink me.”  You step through a literally looking glass in the form of a giant mirror and you are ushered to your seats. Once you sit, you will see before you an unusual place setting.  You have two stacked tea cups, a cocktail glass, a set of infusers and a bowl of rose petals.  Don’t worry, it will all make sense eventually.  A few snacks are available as well. 

The Mad Hatter is the Master of Ceremonies.  He is the guide who gets your attention along with the March Hare and the Door Mouse – all characters from Alice in Wonderland.  There are numerous interactive skits in which the performers embroil the audience as they stand upon the stage and run across the tables.  When the time comes, you are guided to prepare your cocktails by our entertainers. 

The clear sponsor of this event is Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.  All three of your cocktails will be made with this brand. For those that are unfamiliar with Chinese Gunpowder it is a strongly made tea that is rolled into grains that resemble gun powder.  This is distilled with the Gin, a classic liqueur flavored with Juniper berries.  For those looking for a little trivia in the potent potables category, Gin is one of the more acrid and acidic spirits which lends itself to being mixed with sweeter concoctions.  Many modern cocktails were created to hide its flavor when bathtub gin was the rage in the prohibition era. 

All of the three drinks were strong alcohol wise.  At the same time they were sweet, flavored by syrups and citrus juices.  Part of the fun was following the instructions on how to make each one as each has a special method you needed to follow to extract the exact flavor.  These include infusers, rose petal and even an atomizer.  All add to the madness of mixing your cocktails. 

All around you a show takes place as the Mad Hatter spins his tales of Wonderland.  Many, many references to the classic story of Alice are mentioned including a dramatic reading of the poem, Jabberwocky.   At various times, the audience is threatened with an appearance by the Red Queen herself and then it’s “Off with their heads” for all.

Although a beloved children’s story in its own right, this version of Alice in Wonderland is not for kids.  It is clearly a drinking event with adult beverages served.  Although one can ask for non-alcoholic drinks and they will be provided.  Still, leave the children at home since the Mad Hatter is just that, mad.  Many adult jokes will be told that are not kid friendly.

Be aware that Covid-19 protocols are still in place.  Though now rescinded in Boston, they still require a vaccine mandate so be sure to show your papers.  You will be asked to wear a mask for the three to five minutes it takes for you to walk into the closet and receive your first drink.  According to Covid protocols, you can remove your face covering when sitting and eating, you are free to show your face for most of the entire event.  You will be asked to sign away your rights to legal grievances should you be injured by Covid during this event.  If that is not possible for you, you may need to skip the event.

For those that love immersive theatre, then this is a great event for you to attend.  They highly encourage dress up and many folks came in custom costumes in line with the theme of the event.  Don’t worry if you don’t have fancy garb, there were plenty of folks who came in their everyday mundane outfits and still enjoyed the show. 

After nearly two years of isolation and shut downs, it is good to know this form of intimate theatre is making a comeback.  If you are a fan of the classic stories by Lewis Carroll, the well-known movie or you just looking for a fun event for you and your grown up friends, then the Mad Hatters Gin and Tea Party might be for you.  So drink the potion, follow the white rabbit and go through the Looking Glass and experience an adventure in Wonderland. 

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