For anyone who has ever wanted to follow Alice down the rabbit hole, the opportunity presents itself in “Then She Fell,” an interactive performance presented by Arts@Renaissance and Third Rail Projects. “Then She Fell,” led by Third Rail Projects’ artistic directors Zach Morris, Tom Pearson and Jennine Willett, provides audiences with the chance to visit Wonderland and explore the world of author Lewis Carroll.
Limited to an audience of only 15 per performance, “Then She Fell” is a mixture of a dance piece, a treasure hunt and the original “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.” Performed in the former Greenpoint Hospital in Williamsburg, it is billed by the theater company as a “fully-immersive, multi-sensory experience,” and it does not disappoint.
As audience members split up to follow familiar characters like the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the White Queen, the White Rabbit and Alice, they are presented with sights and sounds lifted straight out of Wonderland. Audience members here are more frequently participants than mere spectators, taking directions from the characters, painting white roses red and attending a mad tea party, among other familiar activities.
With an amazingly high performer-to-audience member ratio, nearly everyone in the audience is guaranteed a one-on-one experience with a character, which is something that similar alternative performances, such as “Sleep No More,” cannot offer. Additionally, “Then She Fell” heavily features food and drinks, providing interesting Alice-themed cocktails and snacks.
Unfortunately, like its source material, “Then She Fell” fails to provide a cohesive narrative. In addition to telling Alice’s story, it attempts to shed light on Lewis Carroll and his relationship with Alice Liddell, the girl who allegedly inspired the book. Carroll joins the cast of characters, and there are a number of his letters to Alice scattered throughout the set.
Although this is a fascinating idea in theory, the two storylines feel significantly disconnected, making the show difficult to follow. The dynamic between Carroll, Alice and the rest of the characters can feel forced at times, and it might have been more successful at evoking Wonderland if Carroll’s presence had been omitted. Despite strong performances and wonderful staging, including some beautiful choreography, the story of Wonderland tends to become lost.
Despite these issues, “Then She Fell” is still a great way to spend an evening. The show is always interesting while the fun and the drinks are almost reason enough to attend on their own. Despite its several shortcomings, “Then She Fell” is able to effectively bring audiences down the rabbit hole and into Alice’s wonderland.
“Then She Fell” runs through Nov. 18 at Arts@Renaissance, located at the former Greenpoint Hospital, 2 Kingsland Ave. For tickets and more information, see thenshefell.com.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 11 print edition. Dylan Jarret is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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