ALICE in Wonderland came to Burton Bradstock recently in a colourful and vibrant display on stage at the Burton Village Hall.

The script by Tracy Rogers was a masterpiece of adaptation, taking the original Lewis Carroll story that we all know so well and melding it into a pantomime littered with good jokes and one-liners.

She also added some extra characters who did not feature in Carroll’s books to help progress the story and assist Alice in her wanderings down the rabbit hole.

These included the Joker (Roy Perkins) resplendent in a red and white tricorn outfit and Miss Rules (Janet Tolputt) who made sure that everyone behaved themselves, or rather didn’t which of course is more usual in any Pantomime! Naturally the ‘help’ offered by both characters threatened to disrupt the orderly proceedings (‘Oh no it didn’t’) and if it wasn’t for the presence of another new character Nora (Gill East) who provided the traditional ‘Dame’ role as Alice’s governess, Alice might have got completely lost underground!

Gill East’s performance was gloriously scatty and delightfully ‘over-the-top’ as she tried to keep Alice in check. Alice herself (played by 12-year-old Kayleigh Marlow) gave an assured five-star performance as the lead with the assistance of a few family members in the cast – the Princess of Hearts played by her sister Vikki who stamped her foot petulantly throughout to great amusement and the Mad Hatter played by her mum Debbie who excelled along with other tea party favourites the March Hare (John Tassell) and the ever-sleepy dormouse (Janet Proctor).

In fact, there were a number of newcomers to the Burton Bradstock players and it was a delight to welcome quite a few younger actors to the stage.

It’s difficult to single out individuals in such a stellar cast of fun and frivolity (‘Oh yes it was’) but Tracy’s script was great fun and liberally scattered with excellent one-liners: the Mad Hatter retells how a wonderful summer was spent rolling down hills inside a large tyre – it was a GoodYear (giggle and groan). And another from the famous court scene when the King (Ian Ibbotson) acts as the court judge and asks Nora “Is this the first time you’ve been up before me?”, to which Nora naturally replies “I don’t know. What time do you get up?”

The King has a series of running gags where he is constantly inventing things that don’t work. One of his inventions is a doorknocker that he reckons might win him the No Bell Prize (geddit?). Another comic highlight was a set piece starring Tweedledum (Vicky Thomas) and Tweedledee (Liz Slater) who set a ball rolling around the back of the auditorium which (so they said) stopped at various restaurants along the A35. The ball then re-emerged at stage left at twice its original size which caused considerable mirth! The jokes and amusement flowed constantly at riotous speed and the entire production was beautifully staged with stunning scenery painted by John Worsley. The costumes were delightfully designed by a team including Barbara Powell, Elaine Colbert, Noreen Short and the show’s director: Cilla Jones. In particular, the scene involving the superb caterpillar (Joseph Keatley - see photo) brought forth gasps of audience appreciation!

Music always plays a vital role in any pantomime and there were several good songs and set pieces – in particular the Queen of Hearts (Maria Harvey) and the Duchess (Audrey Gates) gave us a lively rendition of ‘Anything You Can Do’.

The most important thing about any pantomime production is its fun potential, and on that score, Alice and the entire cast received a ten! Director Cilla Jones served up a real treat for a cold February evening - an evening to giggle over (‘oh yes it was’) and to remember how good live shows with real people and real humour can be, particularly when compared to the sterile ‘entertainment’ of a solo iPad movie or home alone mobile phone!