Polished performances abound

A scene from the show.

A scene from the show.

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NEARLY 150 years after Lewis Carroll first published his masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland has enjoyed a huge renaissance in 2010.

First came the computer animated fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter - and now Chichester’s youth theatre has produced its own interpretation of this much-loved children’s classic.

Alice, of course, is always a challenge for any director.

Unlike most books which have a clear storyline, Carroll instead recreated a dream - full of magical fragments but only loosely joined together by Alice’s journey.

His real skill lay not in plot but in characterisation, imagination, and an extraordinary use of language.

Chichester exploits all this to the full - but also captures the depth of colour of the original.

The set is exactly right - weaving subtle Victorian tones with a giant tree above ground and its roots extending below, emphasising the descent down the rabbit hole.

The slanted effect adds to the sense of a disorientated dream.

The range of characters - from the Cheshire Cat to Tweedledum and Tweedledee - and brought to life with full effect.

The costumes are stunning and combined with the musical score help spirits soar over the festive period.

As you would expect from Chichester, the cast of youngsters are on top form.

These are polished performances from a range of potential stars of tomorrow.

The lead role of Alice is played by two young actresses on different nights. When we reviewed it was Emily Dyble’s turn - and she gave a word-perfect, mesmerising performance.

There were no weak links, but other notable performances were delivered by Matthew Aldridge as the Mad Hatter and Helena Berry as the ‘off with their heads!’ Queen of Hearts.

Productions such as this are not simply excellent entertainment.

They are a great platform for aspiring actors and actresses as well as a huge encouragement to youngsters in the audience to take a personal interest in drama.

Thanks to all the efforts and skills of everyone involved, this Wonderland was wonderful.

Gary Shipton