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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Alice in Wonderland, Derby Theatre, Derby.


Alice in Wonderland
Derby Theatre, Derby
★★

Alice in Wonderland is the much loved classic tale by Lewis Carroll. It's weird and wonderful world has captured the imagination of families all over the world, with many of us falling in love with it's many characters. Director Sarah Brigham and Writer Mike Kenny have framed their story in the modern world for Derby Theatre's Christmas production this year whilst also remaining relatively true to Carroll's original story in Alice's journey through Wonderland.

We follow Alice in modern times, on the day that she and her friends will face a big test at school. Little do we know that the people in her everyday life will soon become her encounters once she arrives in Wonderland. The performance created the moment that Alice, played by Abby Wain shrank and grew with the help of a few Little Alice's who were very much the professional within their parts really creatively well. I thought that Abby individually captured Alice's character well, she really thought about what made Alice's character so important to the original story with her sense of imagination and curiosity.

Visually the performance was stunning, Neil Irish's set and costume design really emphasises the weird and wonderful world of Wonderland that we've loved for many years through the text of a book. He had really used Derby's revolving stage to it's advantages, helping us to keep up with the tempo at which the story runs at. I loved how the various scenes we've come to know came to life, in particular the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

There is also a great connection with the help of Ivan Scott's songs that help to keep the production moving along at a lively pace, there was a definite Newton Faulkner feel about the soundtrack that was really enjoyable. A highlight for me was the "And the baby went wah! wah! wah!" which entertained everyone and really got you belly laughing.

Some of the characters are instantly recognised from the classic, such as Alice and the Queen of Hearts whilst the others have had a modernistic upgrade that is both fun for the family but also can be considered disconnecting from the storyline. Personally, the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum characters 'punk rock' makeover was something I couldn't connect myself with, their song was quite disturbing in volume and I didn't feel like it connected well to the flow. I also didn't enjoy the opening of the second half where we saw a 'rapping' Alice, I didn't feel like it was relevant or needed in the story, it just felt silly.



The majority of this cast is made up of a team of actor-musicians, something which has become a norm in a lot of the performances I've seen recently and I really enjoy. This team undertook a lot of responsibility in performing the bulk of big characters, including bagpipe-playing Mad Hatter Dominic Rye who was bloody incredible at performing such a great character and someone who is unforgettable from the original. There was a great troupe of young actors who play fellow school children, playing cards, a hedgehog, back ends of the caterpillar and such.

What Alice in Wonderland definitely is is an energetic, fun and vibrant performance that delivers on just about every level, for a family audience. It definitely earns that description, and definitely manages to engage the younger audience even if they don't manage to follow everything that is going on. The design and colour will alone be enough to capture their imagination and focus on this show. The writer and director have created a well-adapted story that is sure to be enjoyed by children and families over Christmas!

Photos : Manuel Harlan
Running until 7 January 2017


thanks for reading,
*I was gifted this ticket in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.

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