LEWIS CARROLL created a surreal dreamscape for Alice’s adventures and filled it with the extraordinary characters that generations have come to love. What the storytelling does not have, however, is a narrative to bind the whole together, and there lies the challenge for anyone who attempts to dramatise the books.

Northern Stage has turned to Theresa Heskins’ adaptation for its seasonal production and works its socks off under Mark Calvert’s direction to make up for this narrative shortfall. The multi-talented cast play, sing, dance and act their way through the production, investing every ounce of energy as they go.

Alex Tahnee gives a feisty edge to Alice’s curiosity, while Michael Blair as Tweedle Dee and Andrew Bleakley as Tweedle Dum are excellent as they inject some much needed humour into the first half. A wonderfully imaginative Cheshire Cat and a lively tea party enhance the second half, and the talented band of actor/musicians accompany the action under Jeremy Bradfield’s musical direction throughout. Students from Newcastle College make a faultless contribution as an energetic and well choreographed ensemble.

The reshaped auditorium, with the audience on four sides of the action, provides a welcoming environment that is enhanced by Rhys Jarman’s clever designs and Colin Grenfell’s lighting.

With so much to praise it is a shame that the only thing lacking is a storyline to enable the audience to engage fully with the characters on stage. A final party atmosphere does much, however, to send everyone away with seasonal good cheer.

  • Until January 6. Box Office: 0191 230 5151 or www.northernstage.co.uk

Laurence Sach