wonder.land

Wonder.land is the new musical for MIF from musician Damon Albarn, director Rufus Norris and writer Moira Buffini.  The production takes the outline of the Alice in Wonderland story and sets it in the modern world where teenagers inhabit an exciting online world and parents are a little out of touch.  It is at heart an interesting story – teenage girl from broken family finds friendship in the online role playing world of wonder.land, but has to deal with her challenges in the real world.

Right from the start this production shows its ambition.  A huge psychedelic digital cat hovers threateningly above the stage.  The grey of Alice’s bedroom and school is transformed into an impossibly exciting online world.  Alice starts her quest to find – herself.

The problem with this play is how the two stories have been woven together, and how the drama is formed.  There’s an uneasy balance between the monochrome ‘real’ world and the ultra bright ‘online’ world.  The interesting characters from Alice in Wonderland inhabit the online world, but the main arc of the story is in the real world.  As a result, much of the character and beauty of ‘Alice’, in this case an avatar, is lost.

It is telling that the scene that got spontaneous applause was within the online world – the surreal hookah-smoking Caterpillar asks Alice the all important question ‘Who are you?’.  A key theme of the story is that today everyone wants to see more of the online world, and in this production you really do want to see more of the amazing world that has been created, and the drama within that world.

That said, this production is visually spectacular, with jaw-dropping graphics and effects, wonderful stage movement, and beautiful costumes.  The music works well, with occasional brilliance, but too often is merely a backing for the rest of the show.  The cast are clearly talented but some exceptional actors, especially Rosalie Craig as avatar Alice, are underused.

Visually stunning, musically interesting but there is a better story in here.

 

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “wonder.land”

  1. Andrew Wild says:

    Spot on, Dave.

    I wanted a few more ‘songs’ in the first act.

    Hoping to attend a focus group this week to provide feedback 🙂

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