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Wonderland - Festival blogger review
Festival blogger Janine Bothwell reviews Wonderland.
In recent years, cultural endeavours have been particularly preoccupied with Alice in Wonderland. From the mainstream Tim Burton adaptation to ballet, fashion and even music festivals; the allure of Lewis Carroll’s seminal work is still evident. It’s clear that the fantasy of scooting down a rabbit hole still captures the imagination of our modern audiences and we are forever fascinated by the discovery of what lies beneath.
Unlike other nods to Alice, however, Wonderland is no pleasant fictional romp. Unburden yourself of all expectations of anthropomorphic bunnies before taking your seat, for Wonderland chooses instead to explore the notion of adult fantasy in an honest fashion; dark, gritty and disturbing. Opening with a terrifying, distorted projection of the face of a beaten and battered Alice, she implores us to help her. She is lost, scared – she expects to be killed. The use of media is effective; at once disturbing but distancing the audience as they watch images on a screen.
We are removed again as a family scene begins to play out behind glass; a husband and wife contently sip wine before the television – their daughter, Alice, bids them goodbye as she goes out. The glass silences their every word and we are drawn beyond the door of his mind and down the rabbit hole into the husband’s subconscious as it creeps on stage and calls to him; begging him to recognise his sexual fantasies by indulging in hardcore pornography. The relationship between reality and fantasy is blurred as we follow Alice and her father – the commodity and the consumer – as they battle for control: not so much with each other, but with the industry as a whole.
Founded by Matthew Lenton, Vanishing Point have never been one to shy from unnerving or disturbing subject matter. Their past productions of Lost Ones and Little Otik explore themes such as the consequential guilt of childish actions, as the Jamie Bulger case reigned supreme in the media; and the moving trials of childless couples, while we as an nation increasingly experience infertility. As a company they have a talent for capturing the cultural zeitgeist in their own surreal and riveting format, and Wonderland is no exception. We are allowing hardcore pornography to seep into our everyday existence, and this is a tense, unsettling but gripping look at how normalising this trend is affecting us – as an industry, as families, and most of all as individuals.
Janine blogs at The Jazz Emporium.