Betterer and Betterer!
KickstArt have trumped the deck with this year’s pantomime!
Alice in Wonderland was not my favourite story when I was a child. When opening a gift of a richly illustrated edition I was put off by a scary picture of the Cheshire Cat. My interest in the story was rekindled much later in life but I have still harboured suspicions that it was not a very nice story. Penned by Charles Dodgson, after the story came to him whilst rowing on the Thames, and published under his pen name Lewis Caroll, Alice In Wonderland is a complex tale which is best known for the author’s magnificent word craft, play on words and fantastical characters. Whilst many critics have suggested Dodgson wrote it under the influence of drugs – opium was widely used in his day – others say that he was simply a literary genius with a most imaginative mind.
KickstArt’s version is the first time a theatre company has presented AiW to a South African audience. And it will be hard to surpass. Director Steven Stead, with Greg King, Tina le Roux, Simone Mann and Jason Bird, have produced a show that will challenge any penman to use superlatives effectively.
As usual Greg King’s sets are magnificent. The audience were audibly amazed at each set change, especially when a giant caterpillar morphed into a butterfly.
Costumes are richly colourful and brought to their best by Tina le Roux’s skills with the rheostats and filters.
The Director has changed the ‘old’ guard by drafting in Blessing Xaba as Nurse Nora Knowalot. He takes to this genre with absolute aplomb and probably topped out as the most loved on the clapometer during the close.
Georgina Mabbett-Kelly is strong as Alice and Lyle Buxton, with eyes that are nearly as zany as Aaron McIlroys, is magnificent in his role as The Mad Hatter. His costumes are absolutely stunning and if he had pitched up in Hollywood so dressed some years ago, Depp would have come second in the auditions.
The cast is supported by four of Durban’s most talented dancers. Gail Smith School of Dancing graduate Simone Mann does a wonderful job as choreographer and on stage as one of the dancers. The costume designer keeps them busier than politicians in a government vault with more costume changes than South African rugby fans post the Springboks magical WCR win.
The entire cast and production team are fantastic. I don’t go into a show looking for standouts. Being a member of an audience is a very personal affair, a time where you can immerse yourself in the show and form your own opinions. For me Iain Robinson and James Cuningham are special in their roles as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson is well known in Durban as a ‘slam poet’ so a rap duel between him and his twin affords him the chance to strut his stuff and produces one of the show’s memorable moments.
The usual panto format has the kids out of their seats, the adults laughing their heads off and the cast having a ball (at a tea party ? curious …). This is definitely a must see for all ages – an entertaining, scrumptiously sumptuous piece of theatre.
Thanks to Illa and Sophie at Publicity Matters for the presso!
Footnotes:
Standing Ovation – not 1 but 2 at the opening night! (you have to be there….).
Coffee Bar – you can now pay with Zapper so don’t have to vandalise the Swear Box to fund a coffee and cake.
Cellphone Warden – Headmistress is still busy balancing the books so Head Girl was drafted in as locum for Cellphone Man who I now suspect has fallen down a hole and not found a rabbit to guide him out.

KickstArt’s Alice in Wonderland


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