Thursday, July 26, 2007
Alice In War
Shows at the Summer Play Festival aren't open for review, but I want to say a few things about this one anyway because it's a brand of ambitious and interesting that fans of the offbeat might want to check out this weekend. First, let me tell you that there were at least a dozen walkouts at intermission: this appropriation of Alice In Wonderland, which imagines a modern-day, curious little girl stepping into a topsy-turvy war zone beyond a hole in her wall, is not for everyone and it only sporadically delivers on its strong promise. But when it does deliver it's both smart and engaging for freshness-seeking playgoers. I had to chuckle when Alice, trapped inside a huge rabbit mask that she couldn't pry loose from her head, concluded that "two heads are not always better than one". I loved when she intruded on the historian/philosopher/gardener to ask for water. Annoyed to be distracted from his busy and important work of contemplating the random patterns of warfare, he reluctantly gives her his attention and eventually this great wisdom: she needs water. The scene in the second act, when Alice confronts the war machine, nails the kind of wry satire that I wish the play strived more for overall. Still, remembering that the shows at SPF are usually works-in-progress, this flawed one has enough bright flashes of wit and absurdity to make me hope it is further developed. Also in this production's favor: good low-budget visual design work, and a strong, alarmingly dead-on performance by Lisa Joyce as Alice.