Alice in Wonderland by The Castle Players, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

TOSH and nonsense. Utter jibberish. Complete claptrap.

Last week, the Castle Players chose for their 31st summer production to forsake Shakespeare, with its convoluted intrigue and inter-weaving sub-plots, and performed a play without a plot.

In Alice, a girl falls down a rabbit hole and encounters a series of famously ludicrous characters. Then she wakes up and finds it has all been a curious dream.

And, directed by Dawn Trevor, they did it wonderfully well to create a magical outdoor evening beneath, well, the gnats, if not the stars.

Carroll’s ridiculous creations, in magnificent costumes and make-up, came outrageously to life. The Queen of Hearts (Bunny Forsyth) was brilliantly adapted from Blackadder with a screech that could be heard for miles around.

The White Rabbit (Cal Baker) was overflowing with athletic, asthmatic energy, dashing around, desperate not to be late. The Cook (Trudi Dixon) had a splendidly snotty sneeze; the Dodo (Phil Sculthorpe) was bumptious, the Mad Hatter (Ben Pearson) was all over the place, and the Knight (Sarah Gent) was Rik Mayallesque in its exaggeration.

The Jabberwock poem was turned into a late night jazz club number sung by a smoky lounge lizard (Rhonda Hart-Davis), while the Mock Turtle (Gordon Duffy-McGhie) and the Gryphon (Andy Moorhouse) sang a surreal, Pythonesque, clapalong song about the beauty of soup.

The star of the show was Alice, played by 14-year-old Lois Falshaw, who was marvellously expressive as her exasperation with the stupidity of the characters around her grew. She interacted well with the audience as kids lying in sleeping bags at the front gave her directions.

The magic was completed by the setting amid the trees, with a cacophany of rooks cawing their way home as Alice conversed with a slinky Cheshire Cat.

It was an evening of sublime nonsense.