Alice in Wonderland

Date 9th January 2020
Society Cobham Players
Venue Cobham Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Mike Davies
Assisted By Cathy Hudson

Report

Author: Jon Fox

This enjoyable production was mostly a young person’s production, but with a few key roles being played by adults.   A well known and widely loved tale it is, of course, a most suitable pantomime for young players,  even perhaps the very most suitable of all pantos.  Directed by the highly experienced Mike Dawes, assisted by Cathy Hudson, it tells of the surreal adventures of Alice, played to the hilt by the talented Megan Teesdale – herself only a distinctly young adult – as she enters the absurd and puzzling “Wonderland”.

Being a Panto traditionalist, I liked the evidence of almost all expected panto business; slosh was most welcome and was good to see, as it has so often disappeared from amateur productions. There was a two person band of keyboard and percussion ably operated by Gill Pepperrell and Steve Waters, with mostly simple choreography by Lauren Laycock, supported by Ruby Acquaye and Anne MacCormack.   The music was perfectly adequate and easily heard with many well known melodies.

 I struggled to hear some of the dialogue and the youngsters could have been helped with stage mics.   SFX  were effective - bird song etc.   What came over so well was the fun that all these keen young folk – plus a handful of more mature players – were having and the whole piece had a pleasing pace and continuity.    Scenes were changed efficiently , so credit to stage manager Jamie McLean and his crew of family members.    What a huge and vital part such “stage families” play in all am-dram!   Backstage work is so key in pantos and the well-constructed sets of Ray Moss and Albert Westover were highly effective.

I liked the good use of strong vivid traditional Panto colours for most of the costumes.   Panto needs to have vivid colours and to be larger than life and this production easily lived up to this need.   Alice in long blonde wig and pretty dress was fetchingly clad and the Dame (Cookie), plus Mad Hatter March Hare, King and Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, plus several others, caught the eye.     Charlottle Coulson and Betty Greenwood did wonders with the  costumes.

 A very young King of Hearts was played with great assurance by Joe Wood, who looks born to be on stage, and he perfectly matched the highly charismatic Queen of Hearts experienced adult, star performance of Anne MacCormack.   Only really in panto can we carry off the obvious age difference between these two outstanding performers of “married” people!  In true “baddie” style, Elaine Kingston frightened those on stage and some younger audience members with her Mrs Hackett.   Elaine gave a convincing and energetic performance and in common with all Panto baddies, the more boos and hisses they receive, the better the performance (generally speaking).  John MacCormack did really well as Dame, the kitchen scene and his striptease, aided by a gent from the audience, both hit the spot.  Emily Chalmers and Jess Wood dovetailed to good effect as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Tanya Isaiah did well as Jack in the principal boy role, suitably attired and Megan Castle was nicely hurried as Rabbit.   Ruby Acquaye as Brandy and Seren Rutherford as Stella also worked well together.  Nick Forder was a fine Mad Hatter, complete with 10s 6d hat and he was well aided by James Lamb as the March Hare.    Zoe Groocock gave a well put over and elegant Caterpillar and a riveting and memorable Dormouse, who almost stole the show for my money, was given by a real stage natural in the animated young person of Rebecca Lamb.   I predict she will go far!! Two real life skins also enchanted us as Cat - Georgia Tiedt and Alexa Tiedt as Schoolgirl and second Cat.   Stella Rutherford was Head of Wonderland Creatures and Judy Snell, Head of Cards and Archer, both doing really well. 

Mike Dawes, whose skilful direction was the ace in this pack of cards, can and should be very proud of his talented and dedicated players and backstage team, including the all-important chaperones and front of house folk who so willingly help.