Monday, February 16, 2009

Wonderland in Alice: The Uncertainty Principle (eXit Productions)

By Le-Anne
• adult content: not for the kiddies • pretty experimental • way outside the box • well executed • very different from traditional or mainstream theatre

BOTTOM LINE: The script is raunchy and racy. The approach is a theatre of the absurd assault on the senses. Definitely worth seeing if you are interested in something different.

You gotta love a theatre company that looks at a bizarro-land new work, grabs it by the balls, and says, “Let’s do this! (...harder and a little to the left).” And if that's graphic, it’s only a taste of the type of things you will witness when you see Wonderland in Alice: The Uncertainty Principle produced by, new-to-New York company eXit productions. I imagine that the producers' discussion went something like that when they decided to do this crazy script by Margie Pignataro. Dedicated to producing new works by new playwrights, directing and producing duo Ben Gougeon and Doug Spagnola take on the New York premiere of Wonderland in Alice with a no-holds-barred approach that is well directed, with a solid ensemble and innovative use of set and costume.

I am not usually one for gratuitous sex or obscene language but somehow Gougeon and Spagnola manage to override the vulgar writing, and get to the heart of what is being said, ironically, through vulgar actions. Like a Family Guy joke, Gougeon and Spagnola push the vulgarity to the extremes. One scene includes a giant orgy, complete with dildos, penis masks, and breasts for eyes. While watching this perverted party not three-feet away, at first it was slightly off-putting, then it bordered on disgusting, then I felt a little uncomfortable, then just when I was wondering if I was going to need take a shower after all this, I found myself exploding with laughter! It’s as if I had been pushed into that next dimension with Alice, and all I could do was laugh–loudly, very loudly. The direction is not masturbatory. They do not indulge in the “fantasy” of a sexual act, but rather treat it “as is” – and in doing so, take the “sex” away and just leave the energy of that action behind, creating a powerful, shared experience between both audience and performers. We the audience, I assume, are not willing to orgasm collectively at a play (good grief, I do believe that is something entirely different...and only legal in Nevada). But we sure can laugh out loud together, and that’s not such a bad thing. Gougeon and Spagnola force the audience to realize how insane it is that, as an audience member, you might actually feel assaulted or insulted by a play. It’s fiction people, it ain’t that serious.

Props to the entire ensemble. Daring and fearless, they commit one-hundred percent to every out-there line and action. They masterfully transition between multiple masks, using specific physicality, and creating an organic soundtrack, using their voices, body parts, floors, walls, and musical instruments to underscore the action. Many of them wear masks which are not only used as costume pieces but also act as dressing for the set, a beautiful, innovative, and practical use for these tools. Christa Hinckley provides an even-canvassed Miley Cyrus-esque innocence to her Alice, Joe Jung takes over with unmatched energy and charisma as Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll, James Redfern harnesses a sensual disturbance in his portrayal of the Devil, and Miles Warner, with deep, sad eyes plays the lost and confused Wolf and also lends his comedic timing to the Syphilitic Worm.

Every inch of the tiny theatre space is used. Stadium style seating, moving platforms, and curtains turned into royal garments are just some ways that Gougeon, Spagnola, and the cast manage to make the small stage grow to ten times its size through the magic of theatre.

Several moments in this play, loosely inspired by the “Alice in Wonderland” stories and gleaning much philosophy from the ideas of quantum mechanics, seem simply ridiculous, nonsensical and, dare I say, meaningless, but I have a feeling that may just be the point. Maybe Pignataro is trying to tell us that not everything we think about, or dream about, needs to hold so much weight? Maybe some things in life just happen and there is no explanation or justification? Maybe there is an impromptu horse-race, or a talking slice of last night’s Toro on stage because–well, no because. No cause. No effect. There is no metaphor. There is no thinking. There is no thing. Nothing. Could that be it? Like Alice and her Wolf, maybe it’s time to just let it all go. If this all seems strange or confusing, then I suggest you go see Wonderland in Alice: The Uncertainty Principle. Laugh, cry, gasp, do whatever it is you are willing to do. Then when the show is over, clap and walk away...uncertain. Go ahead, it’s okay.

(Performances run through February 28th at the Dionysus Theatre Complex's L'il Peach Theatre at 270 W. 36th St., at 8th Ave. Performance times are Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $18, available online at, by phone at 718-715-0599, or at the door. The show runs approx 1 hour 30 minutes with no intermission. For more info visit

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