FULL OF COLOUR:  Bunny Forsyth’s Queen of Hearts took centre stage
FULL OF COLOUR: Bunny Forsyth’s Queen of Hearts took centre stage

IN a break from the traditional Shakespeare play for their summer production, the Castle Players chose to delve into the surreal world of Lewis Carroll with a performance of Alice in Wonderland.

It was a bold move for the amateur dramatic company who celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. However, it was also a bold, bright, comical and entertaining production. Inspiring set design, combined with innovative costumes, brilliant make-up and stand up performances from the entire cast transported the audience into the weird, psychedelic world of Wonderland within moments of Angus Wheeler, in the guise of the author himself, opening the evening’s entertainment.

The assembled audience were transported down the rabbit hole with Alice, played excellently by 14-year-old Lois Falshaw, as the story played out over several hours under the canopy of beech trees in the grounds of The Bowes Museum. Portrayals were beautifully done with each actor and actress fully embracing the characters created by Carroll 154 years ago.

There were no shortage of laughs throughout with many great comedic performances.

Ben Pearson was the embodiment of a Mad Hatter while Bunny Forsyth’s head-chopping Queen of Hearts commanded the stage.

Sarah Gent, in her first outing with the Castle Players, channeled the spirit of Rik Mayall providing a “flashy” portrayal of the Jabberwocky-chasing Knight. While Jake Moore and Dan Richards as the twin brothers Tweedledum and Tweedledee provided slapstick humour.

The pairing of Andy Moorhouse as Gryphon and Gordon Duffy-McGhie, as the Mock Turtle, caused a little premature applause for theirmusical renditions, which had feet tapping and hands-a-clapping. The musical numbers, adeptly scripted by Phil Sculthorpe, were catchy and by the end of the evening the atmosphere was electric with many of the audience looking like they were going to join in the frenzied dancing.

Hats off to director Dawn Trevor for a thoroughly different but highly engaging production. Let’s hope there are more forays into this type of entertainment.

The production was dedicated to the memory of former Castle Player Andrew Stainthorpe, who died in December. Given the rapturous applause at curtain down on opening night, I am sure he would have been delighted.

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