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Alice In Wonderland at The Old Rep Theatre - Review

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Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
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Go down the rabbit hole with Alice
Why is a raven like a writing desk? A riddle we would all love to know the answer to and just one of them in this child-friendly caper in Birmingham this Christmas.

Alice in wonderland, old rep theatre, Birmingham,
Alice in Wonderland at The Old Rep

Lewis Carroll, or should I use his real name, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, never intended there to be any real answer to his riddles. He loved the nonsensical, which is clear if you have ever read The Hunting of the Snark.

But things don't always need to make sense and during the magical Alice in Wonderland at The Old Rep Theatre, it was best to enthrall in the confusion and dive head first down a rabbit hole - especially as you never know what you might find.

This is the third Christmas production produced by Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA), which sees an ensemble teenage cast of 26 students from BOA performing alongside the professional cast.

Alice in wonderland, old rep theatre, Birmingham,
Have fun with the Mad Hatter

When we arrived before the start of the performance, our seats were occupied by a cheeky white rabbit, played by Ewan Goddard, who was late for a very important date. As soon as he hopped along, the pocket watch was out and the show began.

Grace Dean looked every ounce the epitome of Alice and after chasing her white rabbit, she ended up falling down and down into Wonderland. Everything was not quite what it seemed and the topsy-turvy world saw her drink a shrinking potion and eat some cake to grow into a giant.

The clever set design by Libby Todd amazed the children, especially the young one with me. As Alice shrunk, the furniture got bigger, and vice versa, bringing out the true magic of theatre.

Alice in wonderland, old rep theatre, Birmingham,
Children will find the show vibrant and fun

The clever lighting designed by Jai Morjaria helped with the falling sequence as it looked like things were floating past, and the funny angled set, gave the audience some interesting perspectives into this magical dream world.

One of my favourite sequences involved the Cheshire Cat, which was controlled in separate parts so the head could float around and upside down with even Alice ending up with a cat tail at one point.

The second act was by far the better half and was even louder and brighter than the first. It began with the tea party, where the catchy tune of 'One place round' got everyone clapping along and singing along with the Mad Hatter.

I first saw Alec Fellow-Bennett as Ratty in The Wind in the Willows last year. Once again, he didn't disappoint as he brought the Mad Hatter to life and excelled in the madness of this strange but enticing character.

Alice in wonderland, old rep theatre, Birmingham,
Christmas theatre fun in Birmingham

"Off with their heads" was screamed more than once by Katie Paine as The Queen of Hearts and what a bad loser she was, as she lost to Alice at croquet using a hedgehog for a ball and a flamingo as a stick.

The production had all the essence of panto with shouts of 'He's behind you' and plenty of boos for The Queen, which is what you expect at this time of year.

Alice in Wonderland is a lively and energetic show with plenty of audience participation for children, although a little loud and overpowering at times.

It's a vibrant, watchable tale during Christmas with vivid colours that make you leave the theatre thinking 'Was it all just a dream?'


Catch Alice on her adventures from now until Saturday December 30. Performances are at 1.30pm at The Old Rep, Station Street, Birmingham, B5 4DY.

Adult tickets cost £16.50 and Under 16s are £13.80 from the Box Office on 0121 3599444.

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Why? Enjoy children’s tale Alice In Wonderland at Christmas
When: Until December 30
Phone: 0121 3599444
Where: Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham
Cost: £13 - £16
Your Comment
Great review!
by Jay Johnson (score: 3|1368) 1498 days ago
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