Alice 2Christmas is Coming: Circa Panto one of the best in years.

By Ralph McAllister  (photos by Stephen A’Court)

Simon Leary and Dame Gavin Rutherford, oops sorry, are responsible for the script of this year’s Panto at Circa and is, with razor sharp wit and innuendo, one of the best in years.

The original Lewis Carroll is treated with a healthy mixture of reverence and contempt.

The setting is, as is now customary, contemporary Wellington ,with the wicked Queen of Tarts, oops sorry, Hearts, determined to find the culprits who stole her tarts, pun intended, and chop off their heads, I mean hats.

Still with me?

Intrepid Dame Marjori Banks (aka Sir Gavin Rutherford) endeavours to sort out Alice’s (Natasha Mcallister) problems while falling, literally, in love with the Mad Phatter (sic) who just happens to be Simon Leary with a silent P.

Alice 1Alice 5

Quality music, direction, sets and costumes 

Supervising musically, as ever, is the indefatigable Michael Nicholas Williams, whose pastiches of Zed, Opshop, and even Split Enz, among the baker’s dozen of songs, went totally over my hat, sorry head.

Susan Wilson directs, with her usual aplomb, a technical and artistic team of top of the drawer(s?) quality, thanks to set design (Lucas Neal), lighting (Marcus McShane), and outrageous costumes (Sheila Horton).

Accept from one who knows, that the price of admission is worth it, if only for the consummate skills Gavin Rutherford, highlighted, as if needed, by his tender and acutely sensitive negotiations with the children who swamp the stage when he calls for cat help.

The show could lose ten minutes in the first half, but the major problem is the sound, for once not inaudible, but too painfully loud, something sure to be adjusted very quickly.

My fellow critics added their experienced views on the way home.


Alice 3Kids in on the act

Filled with lots and lots of laughs. Was great to see the younger audience involved and a range of punch lines for both children and adults to enjoy.

I didn’t understand some of the references to people or politics but that was fine as they were directed at the older audience and there were many other references I could laugh at. I’ve only just watched it and can’t wait to see how they top that next year (if it’s even possible). —EMILEE (15)


The younger audience liked being involved. Some parts were overly repetitive. The sound needs to be fixed as it was quite loud. I was sitting up the front though. I understood lots of the jokes. The free food was great. –CAMERON (12)

Enough said!

Season’s greetings

This song from 1967 somehow seems appropriate —Eds