Murray Bridge Players & Singers
Monarto Memorial Hall
Until 18 Nov 2018

Review by Richard Manning

To approach this as a review of a standard adult production is not the way to handle a youth production. If for one moment you think I’m going to in anyway discourage children from participating in theatre you’d be wrong. Besides, I had fun. They did a great job.

For many of the young actors this was their first appearance on stage. There were a lot of firsts in this production; first time director Carlie Gibbs, mentored ably by Janene Overton, was able to encourage this group of young to very young actors to give their best.

In every way I thought the production utterly appropriate, starting with the venue. Monarto Memorial Hall is a classic country hall. Flat auditorium with a small raised stage area. Lighting was necessarily simply but remarkably effective. Going to black light for Alice falling down the rabbit hole carefully highlighting the objects she saw on the shelves of the, again simple, set in fluorescent colours so they stood out in the lighting was a great idea giving the scene a surreal look.

I had thought not to highlight any performance but one stood out to me. A small role but showing clear understanding of the part was Rhiannon Bowley as the Cheshire Cat. Giving the part that languid feel and that smile that told you the cat knew much more the she was letting on. Good job.

But there were so many good performances from the young cast. The Hatter, the Dormouse, the Mock Turtle and of course Alice and the wonderfully size mismatched King and Queen of Hearts. What the children with the help of their director brought to this was their youthful sense of imagination and sheer fun that an adult production struggles with and largely cannot reproduce.

As with all MBPS productions the costuming was excellent and appropriate. The playing card guards, were great and the Queen of Hearts out fit was a triumph.

The message that comes out of this is I had fun. I had fun because it was clear the young people performing had fun. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.