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Alice in Wonderland - NODA Review 2017

Bath Unity Players, Kingswood School, Jan 2017

 

 

 
Reviewed by Dee Way, District 14 Representative, South West Region

 

It was my first visit to this pantomime, so I was interested to see how much of the original story had been kept – and to see how you would handle the more magical elements of the show. 

 

The direction of the show by Katrina Cowie was very creative.  The opening was intriguing, with Alice asleep, then in dreamland, while the rabbit hole fall was creatively done by projected film.  The costumes were lovely and bright in contrast to the set and all the actors and dancers did very well in their roles. The first half might have benefited from cutting a little, perhaps, as it was rather long.  However, the second half was energetic and full of fun. 

 

In staging this production, there were a lot of very good ideas.  The caterpillar worked very well, apart from not being able to see its wings clearly after it pupated, and the Cheshire Cat, the card characters and Queen of Hearts were lovely!  The hunting of the haggises on hobby horses was great fun!  Every character was well played and knew their part, including the chorus.

 

The scenery constituted side flats and the large projection screen, with the centre stage built up for the caterpillar.  This mix of real scenery and projection I found somewhat unsatisfactory on this occasion, as from where I was in the auditorium, we lost the bottom of the scenery projection in Act 2, probably due to angles of vision.  It may be worth sticking to one medium or the other for each section of the production.  Also, at one time during a longer scene change, there was lighting on behind the gauze curtain, so we could see the stagehands at work.

 

Regarding the music, once again the mix of recorded and live music was a little distracting.  Personally I much prefer the live music.  The sound was well managed, with good balance on the whole between music and singers, with only one or two hiccups with microphones.    The creative adverts during the interval were lovely, such as the ‘Three Pigs Construction Company’!

 

The dancing in the show was excellent again, with really good costumes, choreography and characterisation.  The insect dance was great fun.  The makeup was very good, especially for The March Hare, Knave of Spades and Dame Millicent. The group of flower power hippies was intriguing and fitted into the dreamlike production well.

  

This group is building a good reputation for creative and inventive shows that are well planned and performed.  Congratulations on a very good show.

 

Performances:

 

Alice (Lily Pitman): This was a lovely portrayal of Alice, sometimes bemused and sometimes puzzled by the events that unfolded.  It can be quite hard to portray a ‘nice’ character, but this was done very well.

 

White Rabbit (Ethan Cowie): This was a lovely character, well acted with good gestures and energy.

 

The Joker (Kirstie Flood): This was a lovely part that was very well done.  The bright harlequin costume was fabulous!  The energy was well sustained and the portrayal was very clear.

 

Dame Millicent (Ian Cowie): This being a smaller role than in many pantomimes worked very well here.  The characterisation and outrageousness were more mellow than often, which allowed the story to flow really well.

 

Knave of Spades (Tom Jenkins): This was a lovely contrast to the bright colours and cheerfulness of the other characters. It seemed that you really enjoyed the part and played it to the full.  Well done!

 

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (Lynda Tucker and Cressida Bullock): This was a fun pair of characters! It must have been quite tricky handling all that padding, but the effect was wonderful.  The timings were excellent.

 

Queen of Hearts (Jenny John):  This was a very good characterisation, full of energy and strength. The change when the King of Hearts stood up to her was totally believable.  Well done!

 

King of Hearts (Gabriel Mulcahy): This was a good depiction of the harassed king who was actually the most sensible character onstage at times. The change to the stronger character was very good.

 

Prince of Diamonds (Sacha Clayton): This was a well-acted part with plenty of singing that was really well done.  You have good stage presence and energy.  Well done!

 

Princess of Hearts (Leah Johnson): This character is harder to make realistic, as gentle characters often are.  You did very well here, and the singing was very good, especially in the duets.

 

Sergeant (Sophie Cruse): This was an important role that acted to join sections of the pantomime together.  This was a lovely peppery portrayal of the character.

 

Cheshire Cat (Olivia Cowie): This small part was very well done, with the gradual disappearing nicely worked.  The move to different places also worked very well.

 

Caterpillar (Amelia Flood):  It must have been difficult to think into being a caterpillar with so little movement available to you.  This was really well portrayed.

 

Mad Hatter (Lez Goodwin) and March Hare (Jane Goodwin):  What a good pair of characters these were.

 

Wizard (Steve Barratt): This was a nice small role that was vital towards the end of the show.  Well done!

 

 

Dormouse (Mia Farrer): This small role was beautifully done, with a lot of feeling and understanding.