THEATRE REVIEW: Hatter in Winterland ★★

Hatter in Winterland
Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham
15th December - 28th December 2018

Based Loosely on Alice in Wonderland, this new interpretation from Noodle Productions, Hatter in Winterland, sees a different journey to our beloved story, as Hatter finds himself stranded in Winterland, along with his friend The March Hare, and newly acquainted Mr B The Beaver, where the stories of the terrifying Jabberwocky haunts the land.

Sadly in this production though the magic is never truly captured. Alex Guilford fails to create the eccentric flare that the Hatter in known for, instead settling for a character who becomes less of the protagonist as the story unfolds, and more of a cowardly man who stumbles with no pure stage presence, which instead is handed over to Sebastian Harker as The March Hare, who was a marathon ahead of everyone else on stage with huge balls of energy and conviction with his character.

Playhouse Veteran Will Brown, portraying Mouse and Mr B The Beaver, struggles to keep the imagination alive, which the script, written by Matt Nolan, who makes an excruciating cameo with little ability, and Ginny Burge, partly to blame for this lack of adventure in this snoozefest. At one point during the second act, I was more engrossed with a conversation between two children discussing their favourite transformer than the entirety of what was being produced on stage. Immy Bailey as the Cheshire Cat brings little sense to a flaky script but does delight in costume and comic timing, whereas Daisy Hadley fails to show any definition between the array of characters she conveys on stage, especially as original protagonist Alice.

Alex Lewer produces a shocking lighting design filled with block GCSE styled coloured choices which fails to show off the performers facial expressions at pivotal points throughout, whilst local performers on stage stumble and awkwardly peer into the audience, probably hoping that their parents are in to make a fast escape at the end of the night.

Overall, if the script had ended with Hatter and his friends still stuck in Winterland, there might  have been one redeeming feature right there!

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