NODA review for Alice in Wonderland
Society: University of Kent Players
Show: Alice in Wonderland
Venue: Mungo’s Cafe, University of Kent, Canterbury
Director: Vicky Gatward-Warner
Assistant Direction: Kevin White
Alice in Wonderland is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, which tells of a young girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. It has never been out of print and its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, art, theme parks, board games, video games and of course rather wonderful radio adaptations..
This was no exception. A very accurately cast production in the safe hands of director Vicky Gatward-Warner, it brought us everything we have come to expect from a University of Kent Players radio production. There was a vast array of wonderful characters all brought to life by an extraordinarily talented cast manoeuvring seamlessly in and out of the many roles they played. Direction was polished and each performer knew exactly what was required of them.
Right from the start Marie-Jeanne Royer showed a youthful approach as the productions protagonist Alice. She gave the character a clever, well-mannered, and mischievous quality while showing just how curious and sceptical of authority she really is.
The role of the narrator was shared between the slinky purring tones of Zarina Hawkins as the Cheshire Cat and the regimented and assured delivery of Paul Morris as the Caterpillar. They both held the piece together and kept the pace moving without rushing the story. Secure hands indeed.
Jonathan Thirlwell played the March Hare, Mouse and Frog Footman amongst many other roles with as much charming appeal as possible. His characters were varied and well thought out. The White Rabbit and the Cook were played by Silvia Dobre. It was the first time I have ever seen the White Rabbit played in such a sultry way but I rather enjoyed the different interpretation.
James Manning gave us a multitude of appealing characters including a bumbling King of Hearts, a nervous Duchess and a very maudlin Mock Turtle. An obvious all-rounder, his performance was attractive and versatile. The final member of the acting company was the ultra-talented Grace Grussenmeyer. This accomplished performer oozes confidence by the bucket load and rightly so. The many roles she played, including a very kooky Mad Hatter and a riled up Queen of Hearts, all showed a considerable amount of diversity, sense of character and imagination. A natural talent on the stage I hope this young lady appears in many more productions.
You cannot write a review about a radio play without mentioning the amazing foleys. Jess Hudson, Emily Rivers and Robin Rose Breetveld worked incredibly hard producing a vast amount of sound effects all on cue in a variety of ways. Their timing was impeccable and I especially loved their numerous fanfares!
This production was thoroughly entertaining and deserved a larger audience than it had on the night I had the pleasure of attending. It is such an engaging form of theatre and always engrosses those who watch. Many congratulations on yet another well-presented piece.
Review by: Cheryl Mumford District 6 Representative