photo by Keith Pattison

by Susan Sontag

Directed by Tess Denman-Cleaver

Designed by Ben Jeans Houghton

Lighting by Douglas Kuhrt

Sound by Tim Shaw


See full Cast, Creative and Production team here

Alice in Bed is a raucous, joyful play based on the life and diaries of Alice James (1848-92), sharp witted sister to Henry and William James.

In it we accompany Alice and her brilliant imagination on a captivating and ultimately transformative adventure through a wonderland populated by poets, dormice, a couple of dancing sailors and Henry James himself.

The play asks questions about the way in which we understand illness and health in modern society and the value of subjective experience in contemporary culture.

Tender Buttons production took place in an immersive and playful environment designed by artist Ben Jeans Houghton for The Stephenson Works, Newcastle. In one of Newcastle’s most historically significant buildings, the audience were invited to explore the world of Alice’s mind.

Susan Sontag’s play and Tender Buttons production was a celebration of subjectivity, imagination and individuality.



Praise for Alice in Bed

“Director Tess Denman-Cleaver has captured the other side of Victorian life where hysteria gripped the women of the age.  Her theatre company, Tender Buttons, has achieved something quite special with a promenade production of Susan Sontag’s 1993 play Alice in Bed.” British Theatre Guide

“A very thought-provoking production.” Northern Echo

“Alice in Bed is a play about possibility and individuality. It asks a lot of its audience, but if you are willing to be swept along with Alice’s imagination you are rewarded with a thought-provoking production which could mark the start of a new era of theatre for the North East.” The Bleed

“Uttery brilliant. A magical piece, full of beauty and intrigue!” Audience member

photo by Keith Pattison







Alice in Bed was supported by the following partners