The Garden Suburb Theatre (GST) is a friendly and welcoming amateur theatre company.

We are a registered charity promoting involvement in the Dramatic Arts in North London. We welcome anyone who wishes to learn more about drama, either by participating in or coming to watch one of our diverse programme of shows.


A-CARROLLin' we will go...

I must admit that I had been looking forward to reviewing The Garden Suburb Theatre's production of 'Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass'. As a child I loved reading the books by Lewis Carroll and thought the world he created quite enchanting. So, with the promise of a magical afternoon, sweets in the interval and puppets I introduced my 6 year old granddaughter Caitlin to the delights of Lewis Carroll's fantastic characters.

The entrance hall and refreshment area had been transformed with images of the production and plenty of quotes and riddles. My favourite had an elongated image of Alice on it and read: 'The Management reserves the right to ask any persons more than a mile high to leave the theatre'. As well as 'drink me' drinks, there were plenty of delicious looking home-made cakes for sale all displayed with 'eat me' labels. Great fun! Front of house staff and Director, Jon Musker all sported badges and were very welcoming.

There was so much in this show that I enjoyed and marvelled at - the costumes, set, props, singing and dancing. The cast, most playing three or four characters, were very convincing, using body movement and voice to good effect in their portrayal of characters. But as this is Alice's story I shall start with her. Tempeste Heppenstall-Brown was very impressive as Alice, displaying an equal measure of inquisitiveness and the occasional tantrum as the role demanded. She had a good singing voice and I thought she coped extremely well with the large amount of dialogue. A good all round performance.

Danielle Stagg (doubling as the frog footman) was a wonderful Mad Hatter - I loved her bemused look and other facial expressions. The Caterpillar costume was inspired and called for well-choreographed moves from those supporting. Well done to all involved. Laura Brocklesbury who played the caterpillar also portrayed the dormouse, unicorn and knave of diamonds. Such was the versatility of the whole cast and the teamwork involved in this production. Adam Sutcliffe did well in his roles of Charles Dodgson, mock turtle and white knight. Mark Overall and Carl Underhill played Tweedledum and Tweedledee respectively - another good example of teamwork, as this was a very slick double act. John Dansy as the white rabbit and white Knight gave a very creditable performance throughout. Gabi Maddocks was a perfectly beastly Queen of Hearts, shouting, "Off with her head!" with a dismissive wave. Imogen Colmans Cheshire cat smile vanished on cue and I particularly liked her as the Red Queen. Cate Oates as the Mad March Hare took to the role well and I enjoyed her 'boxing'. Vanessa Williams did well as the Duchess, Prima and walrus.

This production was very much an ensemble piece. Thanks to all of the adult cast and junior ensemble who took us on this magical, fanciful, comical journey.

As well as the mad hatters tea party and the chess game, there were some lovely moments which stayed in my mind. Rowing the boat down the aisles worked well and enabled those with a restricted view to get closer to the action. The use of the aisles was used many times and worked extremely well. My granddaughter was quite excited that the white rabbit smiled and waved to her. Children and adults alike enjoyed the puppetry. Humpty Dumpty, voiced by Mark Overall, was very cleverly done. My granddaughter pointed out that his eyebrows, pupils and lips moved and that his eyes closed at the end. There were pink puppet flamingos which were used as croquet sticks, and children as umbrella trees, crows, oysters and playing cards.

The creative stage and costume design was well thought out and worked well. The costumes were colourful and imaginative. An image of trimmed hedges and pathways that depicted the Queen of Hearts garden was projected onto the back stage wall and constantly changed colour. This was very effective in setting the scene. Lighting was effectively used throughout, as was sound. I thought there would be more puppets but liked those that I saw - puppetry design and construction was by Jo-Eggleton Rance and David Rance. Choreographer Alicia Crisp did well with the dances. The lobster quadrille was good but my favourite was the Mexican wave dance where the actors mirrored each other. Musical Director Stiofan Lanigan O'Keeffe's arrangements worked well although I would have like some more upbeat music.

At times this production felt quite long and wordy, and children shifted in their seats, dispite this Director Jon Musker did a great job in keeping this production as true to its Victorian roots as possible. This was my storybook Alice. Well done all involved.

Review by Cheryl Barrett

This is a review of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

The original review is here: Sardines Magazine