In Wonderland — some of the time

publicity photo: In Wonderland

Sarah Roa, Graham Percy, and Natascha Girgis at the Mad Hatter’s tea party
(Photo: Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show that’s run so hot and cold. There are elements and passages in Alberta Theatre Projects’ In Wonderland that are transporting — and long stretches in which nothing fires.

In this two-act adventure, playwright Anna Cummer offers a three-actor riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

In several instances, director Haysam Kadri’s production rises to the challenge of its source material with astonishing visuals. In the introductory scene, Alice, her sister Lory, and a man named Charles — presumably a stand-in for Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Dodgson — paddle on a meandering river. To represent their journey, the three actors sit in a steamer trunk, pretending it’s a boat, and behind them, on the gigantic scrim at the Gateway Theatre, we see a gorgeous, antiquely brown-and-black watercolour video that represent the riverbanks they’re passing.

In a completely different visual style — the projection designs are all by Jamie Nesbitt — when Alice pops down the rabbit hole, we first see her in a pre-recorded video way up at the top of the proscenium, making her way through an angular, geometric passage. Then she falls, and the live actor (Sarah Roa) is suddenly illuminated behind the scrim, tumbling and tumbling through space. It’s trippy. [Read more…]

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