Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Alice in Wonderland
Synetic Theater


Dallas Tolentino, Kathy Gordon, and Justin J. Bell
With its love of the absurd and its company members' astonishing physical virtuosity, Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, is probably the best Washington-area theater to present a creditable adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Director Paata Tsikurishvili and adapter Lloyd Rose have created a riveting visual and aural version of the young girl's peculiar adventures, conveyed with a distinctly dark, creepy vibe—maybe a bit much for younger children.

In this telling, Alice (Kathy Gordon) is having a tea party with her dolls and stuffed animals when a malevolent new governess (Renata Veberyte Loman) tells her she's too old to play with such toys and takes them away, leaving her with a deck of cards. However, Alice's story is just beginning.

Gordon is a sweet and spirited Alice, but Alex Mills seizes the attention throughout as a swaggering Cheshire Cat in stockings and thigh-high boots. Kendra Rai's costume designs tend toward the punkish: Tweedledee (Augustin Beall) and Tweedledum (Thomas Beheler) are a louche pair with red mohawks and the imperious "Off-with-their-heads!" Queen of Hearts (Loman again) wears a gown festooned with some of those decapitated heads.

Rose's adaptation incorporates many highlights from Carroll's book and its sequel, "Through the Looking Glass," including the frazzled White Rabbit (Tori Bertocci); the Mad Tea Party with the Mad Hatter (Dallas Tolentino) and the March Hare (Justin J. Bell) moving like mechanized toys; and a surrealistic Caterpillar (Vato Tsikurishvili) whose body, played by members of the ensemble, enters into an independent kick line.

The whole thing plays out on Daniel Pinha's expansive set of overhead ladders, ominous-looking twisted structures rising from the ground, and a floor that resembles melted frosting in pastel colors. Colin K. Bills has designed numerous ingenious lighting effects, most strikingly Alice's tears that turn into illuminated blue drops.

Synetic Theater
Alice in Wonderland
September 30th —November 8th
By Lloyd Rose, based on the novel by Lewis Carroll
Alice: Kathy Gordon
Cheshire Cat: Alex Mills
White Rabbit/Mother: Tori Bertocci
Mad Hatter: Dallas Tolentino
March Hare/King: Justin J. Bell
Dormouse/Lobster: Zana Gankhuyag
Caterpillar/Humpty Dumpty: Vato Tsikurishvili
Dodo: Eliza Smith
Governess/Queen: Renata Veberyte Loman
Tweedledee: Augustin Beall
Tweedledum: Thomas Beheler
Ensemble/Clerk: Janine Baumgardner
Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili
Choreography by Irina Tsikurishvili
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 866-811-4111 or www.synetictheater.org


Photo: Courtesy Synetic Theater


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.


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