by Lewis Carroll adapted by Phil Porter.

Royal and Derngate (Royal auditorium) Guildhall Road NN1 1DP To 8 January 2012.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.

TICKETS: 01604 624811.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 December.

Inspired craziness for you.
It’s difficult to know where you are this December. Oz (or, at least, Kansas) has been translated to Bolton in the Octagon’s show, while Wonderland seems to have come to a theatre near you in Northampton. Or a movie sound-stage, given the ‘Wonderland’ sign strung across ‘Hollywood’-style on Sara Perks’ colourful, flexible set.

Thankfully, writer Phil Porter hasn’t calmed down since his previous crazy adaptations. The only disappointed (as with the multi-authored Bolton show) could be those expecting the expected, but even they can enjoy being caught-up in this Alice’s wildly inventive spirit, acted with assured insouciance by a strong cast in a whirl of a production from the Royal and Derngate’s Associate and Artistic Directors.

A few moments of subversive rudeness (see some character names) apart, the show aims at a higher silliness; the distinction between the “silly” and the “stupid” is repeated with thematic insistence. It’s something the apparent school-party member who’s pulled-on stage as Alice has to learn.

No Victorian young lady, she’s truculent and reluctant, only gradually learning from Wonderland ‘normality’. Her achievement is to get her act together in a world where performance is existence, after an initial song has back-tracked, having slid from opening to close without the show in-between.

Lewis Carroll’s anxiously tardy White Rabbit becomes part-efficient magician, The Astonishing Rabbitino, and there are plenty of Carroll moments, including the physical size-changes that pre-figure Alice’s mental adventures.

Liza Sadovy’s white-faced Queen sits in various theatre boxes making tart comments, and threatening heads, while the Cheshire Cat, with comfortably detached head in Sue Pyecroft’s creation, flits around the stage, and the cheery Duchess emerges from a giant Punch and Judy booth to enlist audience help in bouncing her pig-baby offspring.

Mark McGee’s confident Mad Hatter guides Jill McAusland’s Alice through this Wonderland until, like most newcomers, she discovers the best place to find material is in her own experiences.

An upbeat score includes ‘Country Gardens’-esque, Country and Western and rap numbers, plus potential showstopper ‘I’ll be Your Witness’ from musical director Zara Nunn, amid a flow of action that’s delightful, silly – but never stupid.

Duchess Judy of Wobblingshire: Kate Adams.
Little Bill: Adam Baxter.
Gryphon/March Hare: Ryan Early.
The Astonishing Rabbitino: Neil Henry.
Alice: Jill McAusland.
Mad Hatter: Mark McGee.
Cedric Smith/Psychic Entertainer/Mock Turtle: Owen Morse.
Queen of Hearts: Liza Sadovy.
Dodo Sminkypuffs/Cheshire Cat: Ngozi Ugoh.
Jam Tarts: Isabelle Benstead, Charli Louise Blunt, Jess Crouch, Honey Evans, Alana Farmer, Ellie Fathers, Rheanne Firman, Gabriella McMorrow, Milly Mcnee, Oliver Saxon, Ella Tweed, Jade Walker/Rebecca Arnott, Neve Burton, Oliver Finnegan, Hannah Foster, Emily Halton, Rachel Johnson, Alessia Maxted, Ciara Mcgrath, Megan Rowles, Tia Solazzo, Chloe Thompson, Jacob Wotton/Ellie Boyle, Hayden Carter, Imogen Clark, Mia Dobbs, Cameron Garrett, Sam Kendrick, Luke Overson, Niall Prior, Barnaby Spikings, Ella Stringer, Tierney Stringer, Charlotte Watson/Holly Castle, Francesca Chaisson, Tia Cotterill, Izzie Elias, Ellie-Rose Green, Rufus Hunt, Lauren Moody, Jarzinho Rapoz, Megan Schofield, Jessica Slinn, Miranda Spencer-Pearson, Jordan Wise.

Directors: Dani Parr, Laurie Sansom.
Designer: Sara Perks.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound: Nick Lidster for Autograph.
Composers/Loz Kaye, Zara Nunn.
Musical Director: Zara Nunn.
Choreographer: Matt Henry.

2011-12-04 11:40:23

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