ALICE IN WONDERLAND & OTHER HALLUCINATIONSNovels and poems by Lewis Carroll
Nouveau 47 Theatre
Directed by Tom Parr IV
Assistant Director - Christopher Eastland
Scenic Design - Tom Parr IV
Lighting Design - Clay Cook
Costume Design - Kristin Parr
Properties - Tom and Kristin Parr
Sound Design and Music - Erik Archilla
Reviewed Performance: 4/8/2011
Reviewed by Mary L. Clark, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
If you are one of the unlucky people who missed the all-too-short-a-runaway hit of last summer, Alice in Wonderland, well then "Come to (their) arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! (LC).
Alice is back, along with Other Hallucinations, a series of poems and prose as only Lewis Carroll could write and this group can perform, and all are to be found at Fair Park in Nouveau 47 Theatre's new abode.
Originally created by the Manhattan Project, this combination of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is what Carroll would have written had he been an avant garde at Berkley in the hippie days of the early 1970's. Now placing Alice and her companions in a "cardboard village" we find on any number of urban streets in our country, Director Tom Parr IV sets the tone where the "unreal" becomes only too real and what you may think you see never truly is what it seems.
I reviewed this play at the FIT (Festival of Independent Theatres) and my comments were very favorable. I jumped at the chance to see it performed again with the same actors but was apprehensive that it could easily fall into that spin-off or sequel syndrome where the second time around isn't quite as good as the first. More Callooh! Callay! The reincarnation of Alice in Wonderland is every bit as lively, fun and wondrous as the first.
Everyone - please say "yes" - should know the rabbit hole story by now so I'll simply say that all your favorite characters are there ? Alice, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Dormouse, Humpty Dumpty, Red Queen, White Knight and all ? and are athletically and eloquently performed by the ensemble of six (and one adorable walk-on). In the first production, the characters each actor played were listed in the playbill.
This time around, they are listed as simply Cast, and that seems more appropriate in that these six perform as a cohesive unit, knowing each other so well. These actors have learned and embraced the art of creatively playing and I can imagine them pushing limits and taking the "play time" to further and further heights. That is what I most love about this adaptation ? structured only by Carroll's words, the director and actors can create endless interpretations bound only by their imaginations.
Enveloping a total evening or afternoon of Lewis Carroll, Kristin Parr has adapted 3 shorter poems and two of his longer poems into scripts, as the production's Act I. Thank you, thank you, for using Rules and Regulations to humorously remind us of good theatre etiquette. A Sea Dirge is a short, one person, wet slapstick comedy send up and Dreamland sets the tone for childhood fantasy.
The inventive use of Indonesian-style shadow puppetry lends the necessary eeriness for Phantasmagoria, where a man of mistaken identity is visited by specters in the night. In an amazing tale of tongue-twisting word dexterity, the ensemble has us join them in The Hunting of the Snark, where several unlikely shipmates journey to find the elusive creature, who just might be a Boojum!
I'm going to lay bet that the majority of us have never read these poems nor heard them aloud and so will now make my only suggestion to the director and actors. The audience, I can assume, is here for the Lewis Carroll experience so there is no need to rush through the lines. His imagery is being visualized so humorously by the actors and his poems are so magically phrased, we need to hear every word. In this unfortunate time, where people cannot seem to sit (or think) too long, the tendency is to rush to get it finished in the least amount of time. Here, there is no need. It's all too new to us and too fun to miss.
Kristin Parr also is credited for costume design and she has created some fantastical pieces for the actors to play in and with. Using trash items and everyday materials for each Alice character was inventive and the idea behind visually making Alice bigger and smaller was genius. And I LOVED the beaver costume from The Hunting of the Snark (told you they were an unlikely crew!). Thanks go to Erik Archilla for the great sound effects and music ? the Beatles' White Album was most apropos. Clay Cook's lighting design is pretty simple but effective. The stage, this time around, is smaller than the open space at the Bathhouse Cultural Center and makes for more intimacy with the actors so you are now more a part of the adventure than before.
Never resting on his laurels, Artistic Director Tom Parr IV has envisioned and now developed Theatre Appresh, an open call of shorts for our community of artists to showcase their music, visual art, plays in staged readings and storytelling with a monthly theme. Regularly seen on Monday nights, each is different and a very generous way to help artists develop their craft. The FTP Comedy Troupe continues on as "the red-headed improv/sketch comedy step-child of Nouveau 47 Theatre", playing soon at another location near you. There doesn't seem to be anything Parr and this visionary group cannot do or will not attempt.
The Art Deco-style Magnolia Lounge (or Margo Jones Theatre as some call it) has finally re-opened its doors to the arts, from where it began, presenting both performing and visual arts. This newly formed company also takes its name seriously. The word Nouveau, from Art Nouveau, represents their "dedication to the (movement of) staging new works". The number 47 both pays homage to the year the theatre opened and to the relevance of re-imagining adaptations of well-known plays.
Alice in Wonderland & Other Hallucinations is the perfect time to let the child, hidden in each of us, come out to play. Fair Park is getting prettier each time I visit, parking is free in the lot nearest the theatre and you can BYOB. On these fragrant, warm spring evenings, could it get any better than that?
Nouveau 47 Theatre
The Magnolia Lounge at Fair Park, 1121 First Avenue
Dallas, TX 75210
Alice runs through April 23rd
Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and
Sundays at 2:00 pm
Tickets are $15 Thursdays and Sundays, and $20 on Fridays
and Saturdays with $15 for all students with valid ID.
Purchase tickets online at www.Nouveau47.com. Tickets can
also be purchased at the door by cash or check only.
For more information