On Tuesday 18 October, I went to see ALiCE at the Shrewsbury Theatre Severn.
The new work from established British contemporary dance company Jasmin Vardimon brings together ideas on identity, connection and desire; all viewed through the fantastical and symbolic prism of Alice in Wonderland.
ALiCE uses more than just contemporary dance to convey its ideas. Guy Bar-Amotz's show design brings together digital elements, “kinetic scenery,” written and spoken word. Vardimon’s choreography merges contemporary dance with hip hop, ideas from physical theatre and an almost bizarre variety of music.
ALiCE is a spectacle of looming shadows. The footlights and torchlights on stage turn the dancers into flickering ghostly shadows on the white set around them. It’s as though some contorted faction of each character’s internal state looms over every event, displayed and distorted for all to see. The whole set design is used to impressive effect. The inhabitants and the spinning scenery swarming around Alice perfectly conveys the exhilaration and bewilderment of a character on the precipice of knowing herself and her world.
Evelyn Hart’s Alice is a young woman just discovering herself and her power in the world, not wholly without innocence, yet still unsure of the world. Her encounters with the Red Queen are portrayed as more meaningful than they are traditionally, and it brings new questions on who the Red Queen really is and what she represents for Alice. Sabrina Gargano brings us a Red Queen who is monstrous and cruel, but also wise and wild. This is an embodiment of the new, adult, world that Alice is learning to navigate, and maybe even a personification of the older woman contained within Alice herself.
The work invites the viewer to question the meaning and place of masculinity and femininity in the world and ourselves, encouraging us to examine how the nature of our identity and experience alters when we are alone or reflected in another person.
ALiCE is a production that allows us to re-examine the Wonderland characters we thought we knew. This not only brings us a modern take to the story, but a more personal one too. The contemporary dancers abstract the tale into its symbols and motifs, and we leave the theatre ready to examine the world with these new images as our lens.
See ALiCE on Tour
More dates to be announced soon.