nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
If we live in a wired society, where does it connect to theater?
August 15, 2002
In their exploration of this thought, the LIDA Project presents its current version of Alice. They assert the piece is "…a continually evolving experiment that explores the balance of traditional theatre, technology, abstract philosophy and storytelling". As part of their larger "(2): Good – Evil (3):: Experiment," the work on stage is supported by and partially developed through a website, www.good-evil.org.
The website allows the individual to respond to and engage with others, making the Internet (machine) experience active. This performance piece is less directed towards their "user" (human) experience, as it is designed without much consideration of how the audience participates. It is somehow oddly static and confined by its intellectualism.
Using various writings of Lewis Carroll as a starting point, a very polished ensemble enters murmuring a text that is broken down to letters and builds back into words. They then flow through a nonlinear sequence which roams from direct quotes ("At the time, it all seemed so very natural"), to sketches enacting websites you might/might not connect with the themes of Alice in Wonderland (militia? meat? porn?), to anagrams based on the letters that spell Lewis Carroll. It almost feels as if the piece is a randomized list of responses to the query "lewis carroll". There are interesting moments but too often the enactment of the idea is longer than the thought—I am ready to move on, but can’t skip their Flash.
On a practical level, their lighting created part of the distance between the piece and me. Alice is lit only by small fluorescent lighting pieces placed across the stage. As a concept, that may connect to the glare of a monitor, but it’s very hard on the eyes. I wasn’t expecting visual fatigue from an hour-long piece.
There is an enormous amount of thought within this piece, it is highly developed and quite deliberate. It is not, however, particularly theatrical and less successful in communicating with its live audience than that on the Internet.