Through the Looking Glass
The Shop at Fort Fringe

Remaining Performances:
Sunday, 7/13, 2 pm
Wednesday, 7/16; 8 pm
Sunday, 7/20, 8 pm

They say: “In this original adaptation of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ by Lewis Carroll, Alice travels back to Wonderland when tricked by her own reflection. Through creative movement and sound, the creatures of Wonderland haphazardly guide Alice on a tumultuous journey to get back through the looking glass.”

Ted’s take: In critiquing this production, one is likely to transgress the lines with which the play opens:

It shall not touch with breath of bale
The pleasance of our fairy tale.

Perhaps, one muses, they would have done better to open with a couplet from the epilogue:

Lingering onward dreamily
in an evening of July—

…which of course is what this production does, lingering onward so dreamily that its thirty-five minutes begin to feel more like the sixty with which the festival program credits them. That said, it is widely observed that one of Wonderland’s signature offerings is a reprieve from the flow of time—and so whatever quibbling breaths of bale I might offer are unlikely to sully the pleasance of this piece.

Omniumgatherum’s version of Wonderland boasts a reprieve from various other temporal fixtures—props and a set, to name two. The players serve as these, and as characters in a neatly minimalist evocation of the acentric, hallucinogenically alienating nature of the Other World. That otherworldliness establishes itself too in the lovely dissonant drone of the three flowers-turned-Weird-Sisters who befriend and befuddle Alice upon her emergence from the mirror and quickly teach her the lessons of Wonderland, where curiosity is punished, idiom is whipped, and trees become sexual predators.

Meanwhile, Alice charms, batting her blue-painted eyes (look carefully—they match her socks), and holding the audience rapt with the simple stuff (building a house of cards, staring at herself in the mirror). None of the players, however, corners the market on comic timing, and some decent scenes get overshadowed by some very high-schoolish gaffes: facing upstage, half-baked English accents, an episode or two of awkward shouting, and a great general shuffling about by way of…dance.

As Alice might say, “Curiouser and curiouser.”

See it if: You’re a sucker for lamé and tutus.

Skip it if: You consider Jefferson Airplane inadequate interpreters of Lewis Carroll.