Review: Alice at Botanical Gardens

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Not too many theatrical productions start with the actors inviting the audience to play Grandmother’s Footsteps before the performance begins. But then this is Heartbreak Productions, what must be Britain’s friendliest and most engaging theatre company.

Back in Sheffield in the open air for the 21st year, Heartbreak founder and director Peter Mimmack and writer Dani Carbery have rolled up the best bits from both Alice books and updated the setting to today.

So instead of falling down a rabbit hole Alice (Lily Carrie) falls into her i-Pad and finishes up in Wonderland.

She’s not so much a winsome little girl but a thoroughly modern feisty miss. All the other parts – and there are quite a few – are shared by a talented trio of actors, Rhian McLean, Alex Moore and Nathan Smith.

As usual the set and props are a marvel of improvisation.

What’s more it’s all done with some fairly witty rhyming couplets which give the show the feel of a pantomime and there are songs and audience participation.

As with all shows you can book a seat but Heartbreak regulars bring their own garden chairs and rugs and picnic before the show begins – great fun on a warm summer’s evening.

Other open air companies have come and gone in Sheffield but Heartbreak have become part of the scenery. If you missed them they’re back in the gardens from Thursday for what is billed as “a show about immigration and moving house” – Dracula.

On present form it should be fun.