Saturday, October 19, 2013
Alice Lost in Wonderland written and directed by Rob Winn Anderson had its original world premiere at the Garden Theatre (160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden FL.). The show marks Beth Marshall Presents' 9th production in partnership with The Garden Theatre. The first thing that struck me was the wonderful Steam punk mental asylum set by Tom Mangieri. It was vaguely reminiscent of the set for Wicked.
Actors gathered for a group photo and then ran through a fight sequence choreographed by Bill Warriner. Becky Eck, who played Jane stood on stage alone as other actors got into place. I assumed from the title that I should look to sketch Alice, but it became quite clear that Jane was the lead character. I had sketched auditions and heard several dozen actresses read for the part of Jane. When I saw the monologue performed by Becky in the context of the play, I was floored, astonished at the meaning and implied emotion in her performance.
Alice Lost in Wonderland, uses Lewis Carroll’s classic book to inspire the story of Jane's frantic search for what she has lost. Years of falling in and out of mental institutions have broken her and now she finds herself in a terrifying situation where chances are final and journeys into dark places are both wonderful and haunting. This whimsical psychological thriller steps out of reality and into a shattered mind to create a classically creepy and intriguingly creative journey through wonderland.
In one compelling moment Jane is stripped of her cheerful childhood clothes by grey institution patients. She stands bare for a moment in her bra and panties and then the patients slip the dingy grey institution uniform over her head. It becomes clear that her Wonderland quest makes her one of them. I was delighted to see Tod Caviness as the Caterpillar. He gave the character a hip 60's flair that only a poet could perform.
Jane's search for Alice in Wonderland is actually a way for her to avoid horrible memories from her past. As these memories surface, the play takes a dark sinister turn to face the worst in human nature. This is NOT a kids show. Issues and horrors faced are all too real. The show is quick witted and light when in the Wonderland fantasy then grey and sinister when facing the realities of doctors who consider electroshock therapy an enlightened practical approach to mental health. This show is a perfect addition to the Halloween season.
Mark Your Calendar! This show runs through November 3rd. Show times are Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $25 for adults ($21 for seniors/students). There will also be an Industry Night on Monday, October 28 at 8pm. This show is open to the public with $15 tickets for those in the theatre industry. Pilars Bar next door will be open and offering drink specials for patrons on Industry Nite Monday Oct. 28th. Get your tickets now at BethMarshallPresents.com or GardenTheatre.org!