Going into this excursion, I was very unsure of what to expect. Alice in Wonderland has never been a favorite movie of mine, and the child appeal for this event made me skeptical. Nonetheless, this experience was perfectly-timed. After just seeing two grueling performances of Women Beware Women and Romeo and Juliet, this interactive, audience-driven performance was exhilarating at less-taxing on the brain. When you get inside of the venue and fell down the ever-so-inevitable rabbit hole, you got to decide whether you were going to “drink” (shrink) or “eat” (grow) to get through the door into Wonderland. Once split, you received a card at random that split you into the four suits: diamond, heart, spade, and clubs. Each suit had a special part to play in the resistance and eventual downfall of the queen and the rescue of Alice.
Here is why I found this show to be effective: everyone was committed. This is an hour long show with many stages, characters, and technical elements. Not to mention, there is a new show every half hour, so all of this must be reset for the folks behind us. This never phased anyone. I felt like the performance I saw was directed towards me. The characters remembered my name throughout and there was not one moment where I felt the show sounded rehearsed or the actors were “too tired” to put in their full effort. Another reason it was an effective theatrical event was because it was interactive. You are on your feet for almost the entire time moving around. This show isn’t a museum where you have a tour guide that walks you through each exhibit. I was distracting characters, running, and was involving my kinesthetic skills. I felt like I was part of the performance (most likely a goal of the company) and everything I was doing impacted the next part we encountered. One of the more obvious reasons why it was effective was because it was a different type and form of theatre. We are so used to sitting in a chair for two and a half hours to have the information given to us; in this experience, we had to be “greedy beasts” and get the information we wanted to complete our mission. This was not realism, futurism, or even absurdism. Not knowing what type of theatre we encountered kept our experience fresh and we were not able to give in to the same prejudices we would at a regular theatrical convention.
Overall, there was no need to look for a cryptic message within the performance. It was mental whirlwind of fun, but it was a new experience (even if you were familiar with the show). The fact that it was set under a train station was brilliant. Whenever the trains would roll by, an ominous stampede of noise came from above us. This made it seem like “our mission” was more secretive because we were underground to stay hidden from anyone knowing our plans. Also, having fallen into a hole, it is only fitting that we follow Alice… underground. When we completed our mission, we were able to come up out of the ground and into the light (a perfect metaphor). This show appealed to people of different ages and left me with a smile on my face far beyond the ending.
You can view the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC70wHBwuWA