Review: Alice in Wonderland, performed by Saffron Players

PUBLISHED: 21:20 21 January 2019 | UPDATED: 21:20 21 January 2019

Alice Bol as the Queen of Hearts in Saffron Players' Alice in Wonderland.

Alice Bol as the Queen of Hearts in Saffron Players' Alice in Wonderland.

Archant

If you want to get an audience on your side, starting a pantomine with the Star Wars opening theme is a safe bet; especially when sitting in the front five rows, are a group of scouts.

After this bold start, I spent the next few hours of Alice in Wonderland, the Saffron Players’ chosen pantomine for this year, merrily lost down the rabbit hole, continuously impressed and suprised by the production, my mind only wandering occasionally.

The tale begins with Alice (Lucy Chappell), a dreamer with a clear and far-reaching singing voice. Alice wants to live in a world where nonsense reigns and everything is contrary. Lucky then, that a rabbit with terrible time-keeping skills (Rachel Crane) happens to hop her way. Alice follows The White Rabbit into Wonderland where she meets a crazy cheshire cat dressed like a powerpuff girl going to a rave, some twits, a desperate duchess, a deadly Queen and finally, The Knave of Hearts (Keira Gibson), intent on taking over Wonderland.

The performances are dedicated and lively, with each actor having great fun exploring and expanding their part. Lucy Glover as The Cheshire Cat moves slowly across the stage, like a lackadaisacal slinky, with a slightly disconcerting grin plastered on her face. When talking about his Tinder date with a rabbit called Jessica, The White Rabbit bangs his feet quickly on the floor in excitement, just as you can imagine bunnies would, if they went on dates. It is really lovely, simple bit of acting. Rob Fernall as The Duchess was a scream. In fact, there were several screams and shrieks of laughter when he came out wearing a T-shirt tucked into a tiny yellow bikini.

Pulling through this mad world was young Lucy Chappel, who, as Alice, never faltered, even more impressive when you consider how many words and dances she had to memorise.

My only criticism is that the production was in need of a trim, with some acts going on for too long, such as the scene where Alice meets The Mad Hatter.

Despite this, Alice in Wonderland was a witty, accomplished and big-hearted production.

Alice in Wonderland ran at Saffron Walden Town Hall from January 11-13, then January 18 and 19.

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