Beyond Wonderland: Alice’s Adventures in Pantoville

Date 9th April 2022
Society Curtain Up Productions
Venue St George's Hall, Waterlooville
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Ian Clark
Written By Ian Clark

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Other than tradition, there is nothing to say you can’t do a panto in April, so in these extraordinary times why not mix it up a bit and jumble a lot of panto stories together? Talented storyteller Ian Clark has come up with a clever idea for something a bit different, with lots of potential.

Wanda the Wicked Witch, in her bid for world domination, has cast a spell on Pantoville and all our favourite panto characters have had their personalities mixed up, and it’s up to Alice (no longer in Wonderland, but grown up and going to university) to sort them all out, with a little help from chat show host Dame Darcy (not sure where she came from).

Yasmine Khamellah as Alice provided a strong lead with plenty of bounce and enthusiasm and demonstrated a fine singing voice with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Eurovision entry: “It’s My Time” (why is this song not heard more often, it’s gorgeous!) Johanna Whatmore also gave a great performance as her nemesis Wanda the Wicked Witch and stunned us with the Elvis Presley song “I’m Evil”. She was aided and abetted by Tricia Roberts and Jayne Green as Tweedle Dim and Tweedle Dimmer – they made a good double act with some nice characterisation.

There were some good individual performances by the characters we meet along the way, notably Samantha Spivey as a very cute White Rabbit, some deft magic tricks from Steve Day as Abanazar, and Nadine Darnley De Salis as a very “Mod” Mad Hatter. Mark De Salis was a nicely dotty Dame, although the character seemed rather shoe-horned into the plot. My favourites were the little cameo performances by Rachael Wilkie as a maid, a pig, The Queen and a tree, stealing every scene she was in.

Costumes, set and lighting were excellent and the musical backing tracks were all of good quality. A lot of effort had obviously been taken sourcing the props – I particularly liked the inflatable musical instruments and the imaginative use of balloons! One of my favourite scenes was the audience participation cake bake-off – too many pantos avoid this because of the mess, but it’s a great bit of slapstick.

I felt that the show could have done with a few more songs to break up the dialogue and a little less reliance on the prompt, but that didn’t stop the audience having a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment.