DONCASTER playwright Nick Lane’s shows are one of the great joys of Christmas in Yorkshire, peaking with last winter’s A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol.

He returns to the Stephen Joseph Theatre to work once more with artistic director Paul Robinson, designer Helen Coyston and Scarborough’s West End composer and lyricist Simon Slater. As with his Dickens story, Lane’s new adaptation has a Scarborough setting and a sprinkle of Christmas, although his Alice In Wonderland could be adapted for any town at any time of year.

Alice is now Alice King, a put-upon, young single mum-cum-adventurer (the second such Scarborough single mum’s story this year after Christopher York’s Build A Rocket).

Alice (played with brio and pathos by professional debutante, LIPA graduate and Andrew Lloyd Webber Scholar Ebony Jonelle) is in Boyes’ Scarborough store Christmas shopping with her children Maisie and Charlie when she is struck by a stock cage, sending her back down the rabbit hole she had last frequented in her childhood days.

So begins Lane’s wonderfully imaginative, inventive re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s already surreal Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking-Glass.

As last year, equally fabulous designer Coyston favours black and white for her initial designs, here with red added to a palette of colours based around multi role-playing Elliott Rennie, Josie Dunn, Robert Jackson and Loren O’Dair each starting out as a card number before playing all manner of Carroll roles and instruments.

York Press:

Playing their cards right: Elliot Rennie, Loren O'Dair, Josie Dunn and Robert Jackson in Alice In Wonderland

Lane is the one holding all the aces, because not only does he stay true to Carroll, but he then imagines the characters as the years have changed them. Rennie’s White Rabbit is now a ludicrous French fashion designer; Jackson’s Cheshire Cat is a Northern club turn cum Seventies-style game show host; Dunn’s Mad Hatter is an inventive idiot and her Dodo is a speedy, in reality slow bird.

O’Dair is both a usurping villainous Duchess and usurped repentant Queen, who has found her heart.

Lane’s dialogue is gloriously witty, daft and consistently the funniest you will hear in North Yorkshire this winter. He revels in the joys of physical theatre; the sound as much as the meaning of language; and the boundless visual possibilities within storytelling, typified by Alice in huge white bovver boots as she accidentally squashes a by now tiny Caterpillar.

What a plesure it must be for a director and his players to dive into Lane's land of theatrical magic. Paul Robinson’s direction duly fizzes with energy and playfulness; the acting and musicianship, aided by Slater’s charming songs, are an utter delight.

It might outwardly be a show for children, and Saturday’s matinee was abuzz with excited children revelling in Alice In Funderland, but what makes Lane even more of a special talent is his love of his locations. You can find your Wonderland in Scarborough, he says, via Alice’s mouth as she seeks to leave Carroll’s Wonderland.

There are pantomimic elements to this show too, and if York Theatre Royal’s management are looking for a radical fresh start with their post-Berwick Kaler shows, no-one is writing more amusingly, absurdly and entertainingly than Nick Lane right now.

Alice In Wonderland runs at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until December 30. Box office: 01723 370541 or at