Another world-class musical in English is playing at the Théâtre du Châtelet this month, wonder.land: the edgy modern-day take on Alice in Wonderland “that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives.” Commissioned in partnership with the Manchester International Festival and the National Theatre, wonder.land uses a combination of live theatre and digital sets, as well as a score is by Damon Albarn (of the British group Blur), to create a very contemporary look at coming-of-age in the 21st century.
Aly is a modern British girl from a broken home being bullied at school who escapes her difficult life into a virtual world as her avatar, Alice. Here, where suddenly there is color, she meets an entire cast of misfit friends. Until a cruiel teacher confiscates her smartphone…and steals her identity. “Who are you?” the Caterpillar asks, underlining the theme of the story.
After seeing Sondheim’s Passion and then Carmen La Cubana, which I both loved, I didn’t think I’d actually like this contemporary “audio-visual” show, but it was surprisingly fun and touching (not sure why I’m still surprised, but my “I don’t like musicals” bias is stubbornly hard to kill).
Throughout the show I kept changing my mind about who was my favorite character. Aly (Lois Chimimba) and Alice (Carly Bawden) are the stars, but her mother’s voice is stunning (Golda Rosheuvel), Mrs. Manxome’s evil glee is contagious (Anna Francolini), the and the White Rabbit (Joshua Lacey)…well, who wouldn’t want to follow him? Hal Fowler’s character actually morphs throughout the show from the MC to the Cheshire Cat to the Caterpillar, with an entire choir for a body.
Through June 16th, in English with French surtitles. Tickets from €10 to €55.