16-17 August 2014
Reviewed by Deborah Girling
My daughter and I went to watch an open air production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Pavilion Gardens at the Pavilion Arts Centre in Buxton, performed by the Cambridge Touring Theatre. The performance was part of Buxton’s family festival being held all throughout August.
Parking was easy and convenient as we managed to get parked on the street outside the theatre but having been several times, there is also ample parking nearby at the Pavilion Gardens. We collected our tickets from the box office and were seen to quickly by the cheerful and friendly staff who were keen to ensure that we knew where to go.
When we arrived at the Arts Centre just a short walk away, we were disappointed to find that the decision had been taken earlier that day to move the production inside due to a poor weather forecast. The staff were very apologetic but the weather can’t be helped!
As we arrived in the auditorium, the set was positioned on the floor in front of the main stage. This set up felt a little unusual but it was the best that could be done given the situation. The set consisted of various coloured wooden boxes and a very basic back drop of flowers. It didn’t excite us particularly as we waited for the story to begin.
The performance didn’t follow the traditional, well known story exactly but all of the essential elements were in there. I felt that the first 20 minutes were very slow and quite painful in places. Some parts of the story were rushed through while others were dragged out unnecessarily. The use of the wooden crates was quite inventive as the cast moved them around cleverly to change the set as the story moved on. Thankfully, as the production went on, it went from strength to strength. It was funny, lively and required lots of audience participation to keep the interest levels high. The children were clearly enjoying themselves as they joined in. The performers had great stage presence and played their characters brilliantly.
Overall, my daughter and I enjoyed the performance but I felt that having to bring it inside did spoil it a little. I can imagine it taking on a whole different feeling when it is performed outdoors.
The Cambridge Touring Theatre is currently touring with Alice in Wonderland until 31 August. For more details or to book tickets visit www.cambridgetouringtheatre.co.uk.
For other shows at the Buxton Opera House, Pavilion Arts Centre or Pavilion Gardens visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 0845 127 2190