Reviews of the production
"It's hard to pick out the stars of the future in such an ensemble piece but they were certainly there under the able direction of Alan Fenn...it's certainly an interesting show which definitely becomes curiouser and curiouser" Barbara Goulden
"A play that told of wondrous creatures and of things beyond imagining...The Criterion is always generous in its support for young theatre practitioners and to the community generally, and in devoting their Christmas production to a platform for the next generation did them and everyone else a good turn...a good-hearted romp through a classic tale" Nick le Mesurier
The White Rabbit is late for the Duchess. The Cheshire Cat wont stop grinning. And the Hatter is, well, mad. In the middle of it all is Alice, a young girl with a vivid imagination and a family life thats less than perfect.
In this new adaptation by renowned playwright and Sheffield native, Laura Wade, you can follow Alice as she escapes her bedroom to find adventure in a topsy-turvy world. Based on Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Wade's adaptation breathes fresh life into a much-loved story about rabbit holes, pocket watches and talking caterpillars.
Our production involves a mixed age cast, including a number of roles being undertaken by members of our drama classes. A family production par excellence!
In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. ‘Alice’ has no specific diversity message within its narrative. The play can be cast with complete neutrality on race/ethnicity and gender.
Certainly this is a play of two halves with the second far exceeding the first as its young cast grew in confidence.
The Lewis Caroll classic story of Alice In Wonderland has been updated for the stage by playwright Laura Wade who retains all the familiar characters while giving them a more contemporary twist starting with a rather sad funeral before heartbroken Alice (Anya Coleman) is enticed down the rabbit hole - in this case a yawning great fireplace - by the White Rabbit (Zach McDermott).
I'm not entirely sure what smaller members of Saturday night's audience made of the earlier scenes but they were certainly chuckling towards the end as Humpty Dumpty (Emma Whewell) turns up and the Queen of Hearts (Hannah Patricia) organises her game of croquet before bellowing "Off With Their Heads" with giddy abandon.
These two veterans - along with Anne-marie Greene - helped raise the game of the rest of the cast, largely made up of members of the Criterion's Satuday drama school.
Teenage Anya will alternate her title role with Ella Moorley and both have a lot to contend with as they have to play the "straight women" to the increasingly crazy rest of the cast like Daisy-Mae Sweatman and Alexandra Vickers having the time of their lives as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as well as a host of other characters.
I visibly cringed as Anne-marie in her Duchess role began throwing her baby pig about while displaying her desperate need for a best friend before returning as a depressed mock turtle to display her Strictly Come Dancing skills.
It's hard to pick out the stars of the future in such an ensemble piece but they were certainly there under the able direction of Alan Fenn.
Personally, I would have liked more glitter in the set - well it is Christmas - and couldn't really recommend it for the under tens if only because of its length and complexity. I may be proved wrong by the end of the week.
And it's certainly an interesting show which definitely becomes curiouser and curiouser. I suspect also funnier and funnier as the cast relax.
On a feezing cold night in December a play was staged. A play that told of wondrous creatures and of things beyond imagining. A play in which the ordinary every day cares of the audience were suspended for a while as they entered a land of talking caterpillars, a beautiful blue cat, flamingos and hedgehogs, a turtle with a heavy load, a Queen with a nasty temper, a crazy Mad Hatter, and a little girl who having lost her brother in an accident dreams her way out of her sadness. Yes folks, It’s Alice in Wonderland, but not quite as you know it. This is Alice, by Laura Wade, adapted from Lewis Carroll’s famous tale, here on stage at The Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon. It’s a show that draws heavily upon the talents of the theatre’s young drama class participants and places them alongside some of the Criterion’s more familiar faces, giving them a chance to gain experience in the spotlight. It’s a good-hearted romp through a classic tale, spiced up with music from The Arctic Monkeys.
In the show I saw, Ella Moorley played Alice, a slightly morose child of twelve, who, gripped by sadness, refuses to come out of her room. But while she may not feel like communicating with the grown-ups who are gathered for her brother’s funeral, her imagination is at work, and it is this that eventually sets her free. Instead of discovering the rabbit hole, here the white rabbit pops up unannounced and takes her on a dreamlike journey down through Wonderland where she must learn her way back into the world and a new life and confidence. The lesson, ultimately, is that through following her own imagination she can find strength in herself and see the world anew.
Alice is a bold choice for young actors, some of whom I would guess might not have been on stage before. It’s an epic tale, and though I gather it had been cut from the original 3 hours, it was still a tad too long at two hours. But there was much to enjoy along the way. Some star turns were evident: the grinning Cheshire Cat (Kelly Davidson) and Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Alexandra Vickers and Daisy-Mae Sweatman) were among my favourites. A great deal of doubling-up was done, most of the young actors playing two or three parts, and the costume and props departments wereclearly kept busy. Veteran actors from the Criterion’s ample crew were there to provide the firm foundations: I liked Lilian McGrath’s colourful Queen Mother and Hannah Patricia’s testy Queen, and also Anne-Marie Greene’s Duchess and Mock Turtle.
The Criterion is always generous in its support for young theatre practitioners and to the community generally, and in devoting their Christmas production to a platform for the next generation did them and everyone else a good turn. Much may come out of this production, much that we cannot predict. Forwith imagination there is always hope, as the audience were clearly aware, as they responded with an enthusiasm that matched that on stage.