Traveling to Wonderland: Critic’s Review

This past weekend, Berkeley’s Advanced Theater Ensemble (ATE) put on the production of Alice v. Wonderland. Chris Marshall, ATE’s new director, described these actors as one of the most talented group of theater artists he has ever worked with, and after witnessing the madness of Wonderland come to life on stage, there is no doubt why. The show not only showcased ATE’s talent, but also Marshall’s own creativity and experience.

There were many times in the play that caused the audience to lurch forward in their seats or sit back and laugh, but perhaps the most interesting part of the show was the modern twist of the childhood story that many of us have grown up with. A story about a girl who wants to find her true identity, Alice v. Wonderland starts off with the character Mary Ann, played by senior Shayna Goodman, watching a video of Alice on YouTube and wishing she could be just like her. However, as the story continues Alice and Mary Ann switch worlds. When Alice falls down the rabbit hole into the madness of Wonderland, the audience was undoubtedly able to see the several changes that were made to twist the classical fiction of Alice in Wonderland into a modern-day tale.

The arrival scene of the Queen of Hearts undeniably captured the audience's attention.
Anjali Shah
The arrival scene of the Queen of Hearts undeniably captured the audience’s attention.

From ATE’s unique vision stemmed a play that was both original and entertaining. Starting off with the characters, the playwright broke the role of Alice into six parts. Infusing other art forms like music and dance, such as the flower dance or the sassy Queen of Hearts’ arrival dance, made the play even more fascinating. Playing live instruments on stage, the cast rang out the melodies of the legendary song “Creep” by Radiohead to link the old tale with our world today. And, in a bow to the technical, the set was almost an anti-set as it wasn’t your traditional, physical set that our plays have always used in the past. Instead, ATE used a minimal set by setting the stage as a green screen. Not only was this a different take from past productions of plays, but it was also a remarkable way to bring in tech within the story. From displaying videos and images on the green screen to playing voice-over recordings in the Lykes Center, the audience was captivated by the cotemporary world of Wonderland.

From the brilliant costumes to the magical production, ATE put on a spectacular show. Bravo to the cast and crew members! A show to never forget, the trip to the contemporary Wonderland has reminded the audience that everyone is lost since as the Cheshire cat says in the book, “We’re all mad here.”

As the fall play comes to a close, ATE will soon start scrambling to rehearsals for their next show. Get excited about next semester’s winter play and make sure to save the date: January 21-23, 2016.