Alice in Wonderland The Panto, The Trowbridge Players, The ARC Theatre, Trowbridge, Thursday, January 13. Written by Limelight Scripts. Directed by Becky Holden. Choreographer: Sarah Hanks.

By Andrew Carpenter

Because of the title of the pantomime and therefore the storyline, the opening of this production was far from traditional in pantomime terms. There was no good versus evil appearance but instead a very clever introduction to Alice as she entered Wonderland.

The use of either side of the stage to change door and stool sizes, to depict Alice changing from human size to a reduced size, by changing the lighting was very clever and a good use of a limited space.

The lighting effect as Alice ‘fell’ was particularly effective I felt. Once in Wonderland the production took on a far more traditional feel and there was no doubt that you were now in pantomime territory.

The title role of Alice was wonderfully portrayed by Charliee Bourne. Her acting and singing were a delight and she held the show together particularly well for one so young.

Ollie Phipps had all the attributes necessary to play dame. His portrayal of Dame Millicent Milksop was most impressive, again for one so young in years (most successful dames are over 40m and look like the back end of a bus!).

I felt that some of this movements and asides to the audience were a little ‘contrived’ but this will soon become natural as he matures. He is undoubtedly a star of the future and one to keep your eye on. Again with who involved themselves more and more as the evening wore on. Cameron Runyeard-Hunt was adorable as the White Rabbit.

The parts of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee were brilliantly played by Sandie Brooks and Angela Giddings respectively. Here were two experienced actresses and it showed.

Their comic timing was perfection and they immediately set up an affectionate relationship with the audience. Queen of Hearts, Sylvia Seaman, was suitably austere and bullied her husband, the down trodden King of Hearts, expertly played by Mark Rhodes.

Their relationship was great fun and reminded many in the audience of life back at home! The glamour was supplied by Sarah Hanks as the Princess of Hearts and Kayleigh Lunn as the Prince of Diamonds. Every traditional pantomime needs a good love story and these two provided just that. I was particularly impressed with Sarah’s beautiful singing voice.

The second half brought about the appearance of two of the stars of the show for me in Tony Giddings as The Wizard and Francis Holmes as the Mad Hatter.

Tony’s influence on the production grew as the second half unfolded and Francis sprang into life for the one scene at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. His acting provided much of the best comedy in the show but unfortunately on the night I attended he failed to find the pitch of the backing track for his singing.

This didn’t detract however from one of the best numbers in the show. These principal characters were ably supported by Stella Greaves as the March Hare, Phil Cooper as the Sergeant, whose antics with his soldiers was very funny indeed, Maya Phillips as the Cheshire Cat, Bryony Sawyer as the Caterpillar and Chloe Luscombe & Chloe Johnson as Ace & Deuce together with an enthusiastic ensemble of young dancers and chorus all under the direction of Sarah Hank’s for Choreography. (Phil Cooper was understudy for the early performances for David Seaman, who played the Sergeant for the remainder of the run) Becky Holden can feel justifiably proud of what she and her team produced in this, her first pantomime as director.

Good scenery, lighting, sound, props, make-up and costumes all helped to make this a very enjoyable production for all concerned.