Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Lookingglass Alice – 2010

Adapted & Directed by David CatlinLookingglass Alice 2010

In association with the Actors Gymnasium
Written and directed by David Catlin adapted from the stories of Lewis Carroll

At Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago

This circus-styled storytelling still is fun.

After hundreds of performances and several remounts, David Catlin’s Lookingglass Alice still thrills audiences with its whimsy, humor, and heart. Trimmed to a tight 90 minutes without an intermission, Lauren Hirte continues her amazing performance as Alice. The show remains as fresh and vibrant as the 2005 original.

Lookingglass Theatre, in association with the Actors Gymnasium, presents the remount (from February 2005 and several successful East Coast tours) of Lookingglass Alice, an abmittiousl adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic stories, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”. Eighteen years ago to the date (February 13, 1989) Lookingglass Theatre’s first show was Andre Gregory’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland directed by David Schwimmer and featuring this show’s director, David Catlin. Lookingglass got its name from doing Alice.

Lookingglass Alice 2010

“For me, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandis…a journey through change and perspective and proportions. It is about falling and reflecting and self-examination and a world about and beyond logic,” states director David Catlin.

Lookingglass Alice 2010

The original Alice set the standard for Lookingglass Theatre as a collaborative ensemble based troupe utilizing visuals, rich performance styles, and physical elements of dance, movement and circus in storytelling. True to that mission, this anniversary production of Lookingglass Alice is a major triumph! It is a fantastic show that pushes the limits of spectacle theatre. I loved this show! Trust me on this one—don’t miss Alice! The show vividly demonstrates the spellbinding dynamic only live theatre can generate.

Lookingglass Alice 2010

The press note aptly describes the show: “Alice falls, floats, flies, and defies gravity and the rules of logic on her quest to become a Queen. Marching across a wonderland chessboard, she meets a disappearing Cheshire Cat, a juggling Mad Hatter, two acrobatic Tweedles, a nine foot tall Queen of Hearts, a wall walking Caterpillar, a precariously balancing Egg, and a bumbling Knight who invents his way into Alice’s heart. Muscular, acrobatic, percussive and dizzyingly playful, Lookingglass Alice revisits the classic stories.”

The cast is lead by Lauren Hirte as Alice. Hirte is a fearless, acrobatic performer whose cute innocence and amazing strength and dexterity are a wonder to behold. Her photo should be placed next to the word “fearless” in the dictionary. Hirte swings from ropes high above the stage as she performs her acrobatics with the ease of a child on a park swing. She demonstrates her strength with several bits where one of the men climbs on her back as she supports the fellow’s weight. Incredible! Her portrayal of Alice is as fresh as ever and effective.

Together with the polished energy of Samuel Taylor (White Knight, White Queen, Dodgson), Kevin Douglass (Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, Humpty, Caterpillar), Anthony Fleming III (Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee, March Hare, Caterpillar), Molly Brennan (Red Queen, Tweedle Dum, Dormouse, Caterpillar), the ensemble delivers hilarious movements, clever lines, poetry readings, outstandingly timed two-part, three-part and four-part comedic bits as the assortment of strange characters Alice encounters on her journey. From stilt walking, to rope acrobatics, to chair-jumping to deft clowning, these four talented players compliment the heroic performance of Lauren Hirte. Each had several marvelous moments using nursery rhymes, witty word play, silliness and madcap mischief to explore their zany characters.

The ingenious blocking and staging by director David Catlin and his staff is so polished, so detailed and so clever that it grabs us instantly and compels us to enter Alice’s world. We stay engaged for the full90 minute show. The production staff needs to take a long bow. This is world-class theatre. Full of laughs, daring feats of physicality blended with telling moral lessons, Alice is wonderful family fare that kids will never forget.


Tom Williams

At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL,Call 312-337-0665, tickets $28 – $64, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM, Thursday matinee at 3 pm, running time 90 minutes with no Intermission.

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