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Review: Alice in Wonderland tour shows the joy of theatre’s return

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 August 2020

Strange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020.
Hayley Evenett as Alice, James Ducker as The Mad Hatter, Daisy Plackett as March Hare, and Helen Fullerton as Doormouse. Photo: James Goffin

Strange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020. Hayley Evenett as Alice, James Ducker as The Mad Hatter, Daisy Plackett as March Hare, and Helen Fullerton as Doormouse. Photo: James Goffin

James Goffin

Theatre has seemed like an impossible thing recently, but this production of Alice In Wonderland could rekindle anyone’s belief in the magic of live storytelling.

Strange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020.
Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James GoffinStrange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020. Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James Goffin

Based on Lewis Carroll’s novel, the adaptation by Strange Fascination’s Simon Morgan was first performed three years ago but was dusted off after rehearsals for a new show were abandoned due to coronavirus.

And what better story for a year that just gets curiouser and curiouser?

Hayley Evenett is full of innocent energy as the ever-inquisitive Alice, bouncing from scene to scene with a brilliantly expressive face and engaging physicality.

The rest of the cast take on multiple roles in this surreal story, using Daisy Packett’s costumes and puppetry to create a technicolour world of weirdness and delight.

Strange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020.
Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James GoffinStrange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020. Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James Goffin

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There is plenty of song too, from Helen Fullerton’s near operatic renditions as Mock Turtle to James Ducker’s surprising turn as a rapping Mad Hatter. Fullerton is also great as a fiercely pouting and easily-riled Queen of Harts.

Director Simon Michael-Morgan is the ever-perturbed White Rabbit, with a nice side line in sardonic asides. His dramatic time-keeping is spot on: the action is pacy and engaging throughout.

The restrictions of social distancing keep the audience a little spaced out and limit interaction with the cast, but there are still plenty of opportunities for spectators to get involved.

Strange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020.
Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James GoffinStrange Fascination's production of Alice in Wonderland at Plantation Garden, Norwich, on August 8, 2020. Hayley Evenett as Alice. Photo: James Goffin

The resulting summer pantomime deftly mixes stupid fun and the colourful absurdity of Carroll’s story with his witty wordplay, making it a thoroughly enjoyable romp for both adults and children - and a brilliant escape from the madness of the real world.

My recommendation is to drink it, eat it, swallow it whole!

Alice In Wonderland is touring venues across Norfolk with performances at Hoveton Hall, near Wroxham, on August 15; Catton Park, Norwich on August 16, and Raynham Hall, near Fakenham, on August 22. Tickets must be booked in advance from ticketsource.co.uk/strange-fascination-theatre


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