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Audience travelled to a Whitgift Wonderland in magnificent First Form production. 

Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s novel (adapted by Adrian Mitchell) was an intriguing choice for Whitgift’s First Form Play, the cast being comprised entirely of young boys (60 in total), and yet it worked incredibly well, as was evident following yesterday’s opening night of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

A ‘golden afternoon’, during which the audience travelled with “Alice, James Alice” (Luke Ward), to the world down the rabbit hole, and through the looking glass – meeting a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures from the realm of dreams (and nightmares!). The musical interludes added another layer of quirkiness, and showed off some impressive solo voices, including Bakari Leon (the Duchess), Ben Naylor (Youth), Alex Braglewicz (Father William) and Charlie Porter (White Rabbit). 

Before the play commenced, the cast mingled around the ‘stage’, introducing themselves (in character!) to the audience. Throughout each scene, the boys brought to life the individual eccentricities of each character in a very fun manner, paying attention to every detail, including their posture and tone-of-voice. A small reminder of some of the characters, so cleverly portrayed: the Lory (Farzad Khan) with his ridiculous rationale to ‘think dry thoughts’, the hard-to-impress Caterpillar (Jake Dennis), the Cheshire Cat (Oliver Pleasance) with his twisted logic and ever-present grin, the manic ‘mad-as-a-hatter’ March Hare (Rafi Davis) and the egg with all the answers – Humpty Dumpty! I could go on, but better leave it there for fear of being caught by the short-tempered yet elegant, Queen of Hearts (Alex Saunders) demanding, “Off with her/his head”.

Every scene came with its own humour and wit, to name only a few: the trial with the perfectly in-sync King of Hearts duo (Stanley Johnson and Jamie Player), the Caucus race, the fight between the Lion (Seif Uddin) and Unicorn (Karan Goel), the Lobster Quadrille led by the Mock Turtle (Arlen Paul) and Gryphon (Daniel Shnaydman), and Tweedledum (Matthieu Giauque) and Tweedledee (Robert Kubasiewicz) reciting the tale of the ‘Walrus and the Carpenter’, featuring the oyster troupe.

A big thank you to Mr Paul Wilson, for directing this re-work of Carroll’s iconic tale, supported by the efforts of Mr Charles White (Assistant Director) and Ms Rosanna Seal (Stage Manager). Co-ordinating this large cast of young actors is no small feat, and yet, the boys proved to be true professionals under their leadership - the result of the boys’ focus, enthusiasm and teamwork being a thoroughly amusing and enjoyable production.

The makeup and costumes were as charmingly playful and colourful as the programme cover design, artistically drawn by Lower First Former, David Aboagye. Once again, Whitgift’s Technical and Lighting crew (Mr Peter Crook, Mr David Jenkinson and Mr Alex Hill), created the perfect setting for this magical adventure into wonderland; additional thanks must also go to the School’s Art Department for their support and contributions.

Well done to all the boys and staff involved in pulling together this delightful adaptation – it was great to see so many students involved; for some it will have been their first time performing on-stage; and we hope that many are encouraged to pursue their dramatic interests further, throughout their time at Whitgift. Taking some final words from The Duchess, “Everything has a moral, and the moral of that is…….”: give Whitgift First Form boys a challenge, and they will rise to it magnificently.

For any day-dreamers out there, one last thought to ponder - a riddle: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

 

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