This is a family-friendly performance designed to take you down a rabbit hole into a pantomime full of fun.
Alice’s Adventures is a unique take on the two original Lewis Carroll stories, 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and 1871’s Through the Looking-Glass, offering plenty of entertainment.
All the cast are wonderful performers, each bringing their own sparkle to the stage.
It’s billed as completely original, and Alice’s Adventures is just that. Never before have I seen a giant dodo dancing around, a Scouse pair in the form of Tweedledee and Tweedledum and a full-on Geordie as Alice’s mother, Verluptua. Many jokes occurred throughout, with plenty of shouts of ‘he’s behind you’ and even several jokes referencing the North East, including some alluding to Sunderland.
Humour played a big part in this show, and it was done very well.
What could have been a simple following of the original stories was spun into its own intriguing tale.
Laura Coleman has taken Carrroll’s concept and transformed it into her own wonderland, while still paying tribute to the madness and mystery Carroll created.
It’s also full of audience participation, as is to be expected from a pantomime, but I did not expect to see the audience being asked to stand up and sing along with the brilliant Nick Lewis and Sophie Towers, who played the two Tweedles. These two were quite funny, with their silliness and genuine interaction with the audience making them two of my favourites. Merryn Hughes fits right in as Alice, portraying her as the curious book reader she is, as you experience everything for the first time alongside her.
Singing was done fairly well by both her and everyone else, certainly better singing than I could ever achieve, I will admit.
Jimmy Dodds was hilarious as Verluptua, Alice’s mother. His quest to find his ‘doubt-er’, alongside Alice’s friend Jack, played by Liam Cooke, was fun and definitely made for the best scenes the panto had to offer other than Nick and Sophie’s.
The Duchess and Queen of Hearts, portrayed by Susan Joyce and Lisa Gladstone, were also present, making for some mildly humorous moments and also many boos when the duchess appeared.
Trevor Hughes as the King of Hearts was funny also, creating some laughs alongside Jimmy Dodds.
Peter Lewis hopped around as the White Rabbit, and Wendy Dorothy quizzed Alice as the Caterpillar, both key characters from the original tale.
One disappointment was the fact there was no actual portrayal of the Cheshire Cat, the most recognisable character from the story next to Alice herself. While Matt Bush delivered the voice well, I do feel he was massively underused, appearing only when the plot needed him.
Others such as the Dormouse (Lucy Penrose) and the March Hare (Honey Hughes), while present and saying lines, are still sidelined, leaving the Mad Hatter to steal the stage. I’m not saying that Helen Gee-Graham’s performance is bad, as she does a very good job, with her crazy Hatter laugh, but others have fewer lines because of it.
The biggest surprise had to come in terms of the most audience participation I have seen from a pantomime. As well as asking people to stand at their seats, sing along and dance, children were also invited on stage to participate in the song. The Saturday matinee performance I attended encouraged kids to come in fancy dress so they could join in even more, a very nice touch to the performance.
I did note there were several times when microphones did not work, but the actors still managed to make themselves heard most of the time. Other times, though, they did suffer massively, especially when everyone was shouting ‘hello, white rabbit’ and the cast could not be heard. And while I did have to deal with various kicks in the chair or shouts in the ear, this didn’t massively impact on the performance, but it was frustrating none the less.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad performance. You could clearly see everybody’s enthusiasm shining through tremendously. It was unfortunate that there was the odd mic challenge, but the cast carried on well despite that.
This show did not fail to entertain, offering plenty of variety and fun for all ages.
Alice’s Adventures runs until Saturday.
Performances are at 7.30pm tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, with a matinee at 2pm on Saturday as well.
Tickets cost £10 or £11 for adults and £6 for children. Contact the Bondgate Without venue at www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk or on 01665 510785 for details.