Chicken Shed’s Christmas shows always put practically everything else on the seasonal scene to shame and so it proves again with this spectacular version of Lewis Carroll’s timeless story. We are talking logistics here rather than the usual elements of song, dance, production and design. What is almost awe-inspiring is the smoothness with which a huge cast, including dozens of children, are in the right place at the right time.
This is not intended to reduce the importance of the show itself, a brilliant assemblage of the key episodes, characters and locations in the story. Nothing of importance is omitted, the music is original, the dancing and movement quite exceptional by any standards. Even the singing, from the youngest to the eldest, is more than just acceptable.
From what is virtually a non-stop barrage of sensations and wonder, performed on an enlarged stage, we can, perhaps unfairly, pick out a few individuals who make a striking impression. Belinda McGuirk as the solemn-faced Alice, Gavin May as the tumbling, acrobatic White Rabbit, Jelena Budimir as the Duchess, Joseph Morton as the Queen of Hearts, Peter Dowse as the Mad Hatter and Loren Jacobs, an exceptionally agile and expressive character dancer, as the Cheshire Cat.
And the organisation necessary to carry out the theatre’s inclusivity policy is all part of this annual triumph, including the legion of audio and visual describers.