What better way to enjoy a pantomime than in against the stunning green backdrop of Lancashire’s countryside?
There is something magical about an open-air theatre, and those travelling to the pictureseque Brockholes Nature Reserve for Heartbreak production’s latest summer offering will not have been disappointed.
The adaptation of one of Lewis Carroll’s loved and iconic works, Alice in Wonderland, had a cast of just four people, but their versatility stood out from the start.
Between them they played a vast range of believable characters, such as the Red Queen, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and used minimal props.
They showed off an impressive array of regional accents, from a Yorkshire chess pawn to a Welsh caterpillar!
Their ability to act out a word perfect performance without the presence of an electronic autocue, unlike in an ordinary theatre, was impressive. On this particular afternoon the cast had to make themselves heard over against the blustery winds – which led Alice to suffer a couple of ‘Marilyn’ moments in her dress!
The small crowds of young picnicking families were entertained to two hours of humour and fun with a modern twist on the traditional children’s story, casting Alice as a high tech 11-year-old who enjoys nothing more than playing chess on her i-Pad.
Her younger brother and sister are a source of huge annoyance, and she is not impressed when her father and aunt (who never actually appeared) decide to throw her an outdoor tea party – to which the audience are guests,
The play takes the format of a chess game, with the chess-obsessed schoolgirl falling into a dreamlike world, encountering a different challenge and meeting new characters on every chess square.
Most of the performance was in written in witty rhyme, peppered with cheeky but subtle adult innuendoes for the older audience.
The experience was made all the more welcoming and special by the cast’s efforts to engage with everybody throughout the play and even as they arrived, playing games with the children while they waited for the production to begin.
My children were captivated by the highly energetic and cleverly written production, drawn in by the colourful characters and fun songs, and shortly into it they were shrieking with laughter.
The only downside was the facilities at Brockholes closed much too quickly after the performance, leaving some young families driving home with their legs crossed!