THE Frome Merlin Christmas show has built up a reputation for invention, technical excellence and a chance for a whole community to take part, and this year’s production of Clemence Dane’s 1948 stage adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic books is no exception.
Fledgling director Anne Dimery, who has staged managed countless Merlin shows, has created the strange picture that the stories require, full of colourful and eccentric characters, mind-bending perspectives, dance and music.
Helped by choreographer Albi Holmes and musical director Harry Burt, as well as an army of costume designers and makers and set painters, she was able to offer acting opportunities to scores of youngsters joining more experienced performers.
The problem with Carroll’s works, as scholars and various readers over the years since the books were published in 1865 and 1871 have discovered, is that they defy definitive interpretation.
And for the majority of the Merlin matinee audience of very young children, they provided a chance to see their friends on stage and meet some weird looking creatures, but made no sense at all.
There are memorable performances notably from the powerfully-voiced Daisy Mercedes as the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen, Jodie Paget as a Miranda Richardson-influenced White Queen, the hilarious Aynsley Minty and Marc Cox as Tweedles Dum and Dee, Pete White as the Mad Hatter, Jess Nicholson as a balletic White Rabbit, Travis Gunning Andrews as the Knave and the White Knight and Eddie Young as the White King and the wonderfully costumed Gryphon.
The part of the young Alice in the first part is
shared by Megan Wright and Holly McPhee-Clarke, and Becky Hinde is the older Alice, all giving thoughtful central performances.
The creation of the Cheshire Cat is brilliantly done, as is the filmed fall into the rabbit hole and the movement through the mirror.
And the big scenes – the Lobster Quadrille, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the fight of the Lion and the Unicorn, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – were delightfully done.
The show continues at various times until 14th December. For details, contact the Merlin Theatre.