We went to see Alice last night at the Lookingglass Theater. Chicago is a theater town, but this was especially amazing.
Alice comes down a rabbit hole that is a hoop suspended in the air, through which she does a lovely acrobatic series of flips and twists and turns. Humpty-Dumpty sits atop a very tall ladder, wearing a white suit. When he comes falling down, it's atop the ladder, which goes slamming into the stage as the egg falls through a trap door in the stage. Caterpillar is three guys, dressed in striped long sleeve t-shirts and beigeish pants, and they work in a line, with each guy holding onto the hips of the one in front, raising legs on one side and then the other, or flipping over each other's head and into a forward roll.
The Red Queen is an actor in drag, and it works really well, because the Red Queen is a very aggressive and angry and vindictive monarch, strange even by the standards of Alice in Wonderland. At first he stands on top of something very tall, so that he's miles higher than Alice. Later he comes in wearing stilts under his long skirt, which he bounces on as he brandishes a red parasol. At the end, he's a tiny figure sitting in the parasol, with skinny little legs that cross and uncross, being washed away on the waves as Alice blows up a storm with her breath.
And I'm not usually a fan of audience participation, but it works in this production. Alice set her tea party up in front of a little girl in the front row, who did a lovely job playing along and pretending to drink her tea. Another actor literally climbs onto the shoulders of a man in the audience.
And the acrobatics are fantastic. There's a really nice image toward the end when the actors toss large globe-shaped balloons into the audience while they toss oversized colored bouncing balls to one another, and then Alice holds a red ball in her hands and a green ball with her feet and flips over and over on the trapeze, getting faster and faster with each flip. Years ago I had the chance to try out swinging on a trapeze at a Club Med, and watching this show made me wish that I had the time and the funds to go play at the Actors Gymnasium, which co-produced the play with Lookingglass.
It's here through September 7th. If you live in or near Chicago or are heading this way on vacation, you should grab tickets and go.