Ophelia Theatre Group and Pink House Productions
Greenside @ Nicolson Square
Alice Liddle (Eliza Shea) loves the stories of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (Luke Anthony Neville). He tells of magical and mad characters as they float down the river in a canoe devised of strategically placed 2x4s. She wants more while there arises the question of his intentions and influence. Characters erupt and swirl about them while she innocently flirts with him the way that only children can.
Shea at times comes very close to being a little too “child-like” in her performance but that is a familiar trap for actors trying to portray children.
Carroll’s characters are all around them one no more featured than another. Lawryn LaCroix (March Hare), Jim Lawrenson (White Rabbit), Michael Tubman (Mad Hatter), Tamara Sevunts (Cheshire Cat), Megan Magee (Tweedle Dum), Jane Logan (Tweedle Dee), Andy Dispensa (The Caterpillar), Brittney Moss (Doormouse), Kaitlyn Schirard (Queen of Hearts) and Logan Sutton (Male Swing) are all integral and present. They move themselves and the set fluidly and change characters as needed.
Luke Antony Neville is breathtakingly exquisite as Dodgson. We feel his confusion, torn between entertaining a child who is verging on womanhood. Dodgson questions his own intentions. He is tested and we see the turmoil. He steals the show by not overreaching. It’s a lesson in moderation working for the character, relationship and production. (Like a hugely and tragically overlooked performance of Bill Pullman in Albee’s The Goat. Forgive me, it’s a campaign for the recognition of the subtle-performance masters.)
Billie Aken-Tyers has written a dizzying and engaging script and directed her cast expertly with the assistance of Kristen Brooks Sandler (movement director). The costumes by Gregory Gale are imaginative and elegant. They look authentic and used. The hats are especially fun. All actors are on stage most of the time but alive but never pull focus.
This is a must-see for anyone interested in Alice or Carroll. Or really good theatre. It is a modern look at the relationship which very well may be accurate in hindsight.