Alice's Adventures On The Internet: Wonder.land Reviewed
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland may have been a purely fantastical tale, but today we have our very own, very real rabbit hole: the internet.
Wonder.land — the work of Rufus Norris, artistic director at the National Theatre; Blur frontman Damon Albarn and playwright Moira Buffini — paints a magical world in which insecure teenager Aly (a superb Lois Chibimba) escapes reality; that world, of course, is actually an online video game called www.wonder.land. Cyberspace becomes the only place where Aly can escape her 'crap life' — a mother who's not listening to her, a father who's bankrupt because of his gambling addiction and school bullies — and be whatever she wants to be.
Aly creates an avatar that's her exact opposite: blonde, slim, cute and very brave. Successfully transformed, she embarks on a fantastic quest; scoring her way through each level as she 'runs' after the white rabbit and trying to find the magic garden, Aly encounters a series of digital personas — the mouse, the dodo, the turtle — created by unsatisfied and insecure people that hope to be someone else online, just like her. But what is this quest actually for?
The production revolves around the theme of self-consciousness and gender definition. From Aly's desire to be someone different, to the obsessive question posed by the smoking caterpillar: "Who Are You?". Having a mixed-raced Aly as protagonist, and giving her a gay best friend, lends an even stronger emphasis to this concept.
Wonder.land's visual flair is top-class: the digital projections created ad hoc for the show glow with psychedelia, the costumes are perfectly fitted for this modern fairy tale. Albarn's score, meanwhile, is infused with electronic sounds and fast-paced beats — a fitting, and truly modern take on the musical.
While wonder.land keeps you engaged, amused and enthralled throughout, it does much more — it makes us question ourselves and our approach to the parallel world that is the internet.
wonder.land is on until 30 April 2016 at Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, Upper Ground, SE1 9PX. Tickets are £15-£55 and can be booked in advance online. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary press ticket.
Last Updated 11 December 2015