Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

hatter and queen

Chloe Dalpino as Alice with Emily Smith as the Mad Hatter, Katie Driver as the Queen of Hearts and Garret Awre as the King of Hearts. Pictures: Roy Palmer.

Alice in Wonderland

Hall Green Youth Theatre


This journey down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole is one of the best youth theatre productions I have yet seen at Hall Green Little Theatre.

It has strong principals in every part and some outstanding performances, led by a delightful Alice from Chloe Delpino.

She has a lovely voice, full of expression with clear enunciation, bringing her words alive; add in her apt gestures and facial expressions and you have a terrific performance.

When it comes to voices though, enter Katie Driver as the bloodthirsty Queen of Hearts who has a clear as a bell voice with enough power to raise the dead as she leads her court of oddballs regally around Wonderland showing her penchant for croquet and beheadings in another fine performance. 

akice ad queen

Alice risks losing her head - doesn't everyone - to the Queen of Hearts

Which means it is time to mention the White Rabbit, a Scottish clockwatcher who is always late, or early, whatever the time. The pocket watch is in the competent hands of Nancy Houston busying herself around the stage to tell us what is, or is not, happening. Who knows?

The rabbit appears normal though against the Mad Hatter played by Emily Smith. She brings a delightful . . . well, madness - there is no other word for it - to the role while her rendering of Twinkle Twinkle could be heard on any star within 20 light years of earth. There was probably a tune in there somewhere, but not as we know it, Jim..

All the well-known characters are there with Jess Donnelly doubling up as the equally mad March Hare and Tweedledum and Annia Wright sleeping her way through as Dormouse as well as popping up as Tweedledee.

As Dee and Dum, interlopers from Through the Looking Glass, incidentally, the pair manage an amusing rendition of The Walrus and the Carpenter, keeping Alice in place throughout.

dum and dee

Annia Wright as Tweedledee andJess Donneley as Tweedle Dum

Then there is the book’s resident druggy, the Blue Caterpillar, like eh man, portrayed in laid-back style, due no doubt, to his/her hookah, by Roseann Smith, who also pops up as the seven of spades.

Maryam Kaleemullah is wheeled on, literally as Humpty Dumpty, as well as purring along as the Cheshire Cat while Luke Ellinor manages to come out of his shell a little as the Mock Turtle, giving us some lovely one liners, such as why the teacher, a turtle, was called tortoise.

He is found by Jack Marsh as The Griffin, who danced the Lobster Quadrille with Alice, then there is Amy Williams as the Red Queen, who explains, sort of, how to become a Queen on the chess board, which is simple, if you happen to have a mind that would keep a psychiatrist in work for years.

Poppy Houston marches in as the White Queen while Ruth Holland worries about keeping her head as The Duchess.

Brainerd Duffield’s adaptation breaks the tale down to 14 short scenes keeping the essence of the good Reverend Dodgson’s tale while making sure it does not outstay its welcome, running at 90 minutes.


Jack Marsh in the magnificent costume and mask of The Grffin

Roy Palmer, directing his 30th youth production, along with youth theatre alumni and now HGLT regular Daniel Robert Beaton, keep up a good pace and ensure the large cast with its soldiers, assorted animals, cards, footmen, heralds and of course the jury, (who are happy to pronounce verdict and sentence – usually off with their head – before hearing the evidence) never look like a mob – easier said than done.

Richard Woodward and Josh Powers assisted in the direction incidentally while a special mention is needed for the wonderful costumes and make up, with Julie Williams, Jean Wilde, Louise Price and Christine Bland in the wardrobe department and with Emily Beaton having a hand in costumes and also make up along with Corey Mayhew, with Ceri Sian responsible for the Griffin’s glorious beak mask.

The Youth Theatre now has its own sound and lighting rig, operated by its own YT techs, in this case Tal Bainbridge on lights and the projected back drops and Dan Honnor on sound.

All in all this is an entertaining and enjoyable, family performance. There were plenty of children in the packed house, and no signs of fidgeting, a lack of which is the usual indicator of approval, indeed by the looks of concentration, they seemed enthralled by the whole thing. You can visit this wonderful vision of Wonderland to 13-10-18

Roger Clarke


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