A new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story, wonder.land is a coming-of-age adventure that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives.
I recently took a trip to London to see the National Theatre’s production of wonder.land. I knew very little about it, other than it hadn’t been as well received as I expected (for the NT), so I was interested to find out what I would make of it myself.
As suggested in the description, the musical is only influenced by the Alice In Wonderful books by Lewis Carroll – it doesn’t follow the actual story at all, although some of the relationships between these characters and Carrol’s creations are obvious. It instead focuses on our culture’s increasing obsession over phones and technology, and the worlds they create for us to escape into.
I found the production interesting (I know this world is usually associated with negative adjectives, but genuinely it was intriguing. And silly and fun too.) It had a slight dark undertone, but wasn’t as strange as Wonderland can often be presented as!
The costume and set were incredible (although what else would you expect from the National Theatre?) Naturally over the top and crazy, the costumes were full of colour and perfectly exaggerated the characteristics of all the characters. Much of the set was placed on wheels, creating a fluidity to the performance, particularly the transitions between scenes. I especially loved the use of multiple screens to create the feeling of looking at a phone screen. The performances given by the actors were brilliant, but again nothing less would be expected from the NT.
As this is a musical, I should also say something about the music. I definitely felt the songs weren’t the focus; the music was incorporated well, and good for atmosphere, but they weren’t like the usual show tunes that get stuck in your head.
This production was totally not what I expected, but that’s not always a bad thing!