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Alice In Wonderland - The Customs House, South Shields

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 12th Dec 2015 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

Alice In Wonderland

The Customs House, South Shields

To mark the 150th anniversary of both the Customs House itself and the publication of Lewis Carroll’s classic, this year’s pantomime at the South Shields venue is, of course, Alice in Wonderland.


‘The Little Panto with The Big Heart’ is, undoubtedly, as much a part of Christmas in South Tyneside as Turkey and all the trimmings and it is a much anticipated event on the calendars of many families from near and far.


This year’s production is pantomime done perfectly. From the overture to the song-sheet it ticks every box on the checklist!


And, because Wonderland is a place that does not adhere to the conventions of logic or reason, nor shall the construction of this review. I shall, if I may, begin at the end and work back to the beginning!


The Duchess (Ray Spencer), who is cook for the Queen, leads the audience through an amusing ditty on how to bake the perfect Christmas crumble – yet, this is a secondary recipe for success when compared to the veritable delights served up within the show.


Spencer (who stars, directs and is co-writer) has selected only the finest of ingredients for his Christmas concoction. Firstly, he has taken some sugar and spice (Natasha Haws as Alice) and combined it with copious amounts of fluffy cuteness (the anthropomorphic creatures: Luke Maddison as The White Rabbit; Kylie Ann Ford as The Dormouse; Stephen Sullivan as The Mad March Hare). Next he has added a sprinkling of silliness (Craig Richardson as Tweedle Dum and Gareth Hunter as Tweedle Dee), a dash of eccentricity (Steven Lee Hamilton as The Mad Hatter), and a pinch of vain self-obsession (Afnan Iftikhar as The Knave of Hearts). And just so things don’t out too sickly sweet, there’s a bitter edge (provided by the fantastic Anne-Marie Owens as The Queen of Hearts).


As things simmer away nicely, a smattering of innuendo and double-entendre wafts over the heads of the kids but satisfies the appetites of the adults, whilst liberal amounts of colour, provided by the design of Fox and Shriek add a luxurious richness. As the audience are whipped to a frenzy, the addition of one or two cleverly re-worked pop songs are the  icing on the cake, ensuring that this panto cannot be beaten.


Well done to all in Wonderland for serving up such a festive feast!


Steve Burbridge


Until 9th January 2016

Box Office:   0191 454 1234


Photo Credit:  Craig Leng




1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 2 years ago
    Hahahaha. A topsy turvy review of the highest order, Steve. Thanks and Merry Christmas!
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