2012 Toronto Fringe Festival: Absolute Alice
Alice gets a hip makeover in this urban wonderland
Presented by Stratford Factory Productions
Adapted by Max Martin
Directed by Montgomery C. Martin
Original Music by Tallan, M.D
“Curiouser and curiouser!” exclaims Alice, as she encounters various strange creatures and peculiar situations in a nonsensical new world. That this world is “curious” is a sentiment uttered many times throughout the hour-long Absolute Alice, now playing at Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of this year's Toronto Fringe Festival. With tight costumes, dramatic makeup, and electronic music, this is not the Alice in Wonderland of your childhood.
Based on Lewis Carroll 's 1865 tale, Absolute Alice puts a provocative, edgy spin on familiar characters. Young Alice (Lucy Martin) is instantly recognizable as the classic heroine, but a pair of black-and-white-striped tights and black boots give her look a modern feel. Distracted by the White Rabbit (Tallan, M.D), Alice runs through a door on which “The Hole” is boldly written in black. As strobe lights fill the theatre, she travels to Wonderland, where a colourful group of creatures cackle and laugh on the right side of the stage, their faces painted scarily white.
Meeting the Mouse (Evan Vipond) and the Caterpillar (Chrissi Chau), Alice becomes more and more confused in this new world, but she is instantly relaxed upon taking a puff from the Caterpillar's pipe. Lewis Carroll's words are delivered flawlessly by all of the characters, and the production maintains an authentic feel amidst modern-day twists to the story.
Absolute Alice's best performances include Lauren Horejda as the Cheshire Cat, prancing around seductively in a leopard print leotard and boots, her voice and mannerisms completely reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat in Disney's Alice in Wonderland. And at one point, a cardboard cut-out of the Cheshire Cat's smile from the Disney film is used to enhance Horejda's performance.
Another highlight is the Tea Party, where the Mad Hatter (Harrison Thomas), March Hare (Jackie Rowland), and Dormouse (Matt McGrath) all shine in their roles, becoming increasingly more nonsensical as Alice becomes more and more frustrated. Tallan, M.D's White Rabbit is reminicent of a 1970s Elton John, dressed all in white with large pink sunglasses and long blond hair, while Merle Newell's Duchess does not miss a beat with her comedic timing. Two electronic dance numbers keep the energy of the show very high, and make Absolute Alice a fun escape into an underground wonderland.
Absolute Alice runs until July 15th at Factory Theatre Mainspace. Visit fringetoronto.com for a full schedule and to buy tickets.