adapted by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm from the story by Lewis Csrroll.

Octagon Theatre Howell Croft South BL1 1SB To 10 January 2015.
10.30am 5-8 Jan.
11am 9 Jan.
2.15pm 27, 29-31 Dec, 2, 3, 7, 10 Jan.
7.15pm 27, 29-31 Dec, 2, 3, 9, 10 Jan.
Relaxed performance 2 Jan 7.15pm, 9 Jan 11am.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.

TICKETS: 01204 520661.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 15 December.

Inventive Alice adaptation, well-performed throughout.
Octagon Artistic Director David Thacker regularly hands the Christmas slot to his Associate, Elizabeth Newman. Equines for courses maybe, but it’s an important part of the theatre’s year in terms of public profile and ticket-sales. The Octagon is one of the first (if not the first) rep theatres to open its Christmas show – next year’s, The BFG, is announced in this show’s programme as beginning on 13 November, and tickets are already on sale.

Newman has never gone for easy acceptance, while not leaping too far beyond the bounds of what might be found acceptable. Her interest seems to lie in relating fantasies such as The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland to her audience’s locality and reality. And it works more completely than in previous years with Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s adaptation of Alice.

Adaptor and director seem clearly at one. And a production that will have attracted many school groups and families by the end of its run does well to start in a school room as term is ending. Which of the class will be allowed to look after the much-loved school rabbit over the holidays? Last in line must surely be Alice, a loner at school but also ill-organised and an unlikely custodian of livestock.

Fortunately, her teacher is wise enough to decide counter-intuitively, to trust his perception of the Alice within the girl sitting quietly alone in the room. Looking after Rabbit become Alice’s mission, and it keeps her going through the Wonderland story.

But, if she is fired imaginatively, her imagination stays that of the girl in year 6, growing towards secondary education and the teenage years, yet still seeing the world through the environment provided for her. Designer Michael Vale’s set allows familiar school objects to acquire a logic within the imaginative adventure; the hole down which Alice follows the runaway Rabbit is formed from hoops that might be from the PE department, her ‘fall’ an imagined version of passing them over her body.

Among other imaginative elements, ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ becomes a rap, as Alice’s experiences and imagination creatively merge.

Lucy/Red Queen/Bottle/Rose1/Eaglet: Emily Butterfield.
Helen/White Rabbit/Dormouse/Deirdre: Barbara Hockaday.
Joe/Key/Duck/Caterpillar/Butterfly, Tweedledum/Rose 2: Russell Morton.
Mr Lewis, Door/Garden/Dodo/Envelope, Mad Hatter, Executioner/Mock Turtle: Offue Okegbe.
Matthew/Cookie/Lori/March Hare/Tweedledee/Playing Card No 2: Jack Quarton.
David/Mouse/Cheshire Cat/Knave/Gryphon/Door: Alex Sawyer.
Alice: Sarah Vezmar.

Director: Elizabeth Newman.
Designer: Michael Vale.
Lighting: Aideen Malone.
Sound: Gerry Marsden.
Composer/Musical Director: Barbara Hockaday.
Movement/Associate director: Lesley Hutchison.
Aerial Tuition: Jess L Norris.
Fight director: Terry King.

2014-12-26 15:17:24

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