Schofie

Alice in Bedlam

In Play Reviews on April 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm

A Review

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Alice in Bedlam, written by The Green Room’s very own Katrina Case, and directed by Lauren Jacobs, was a unique and challenging show to produce for two main reasons. First, it was a “moveable feast” which means the audience physically moved from room to room depending on where each scene took place. Secondly, it was a found theater space. The production took place in an old mill in Taylors, SC. Both of these aspects presented unique challenges to the production crew, but they were used to enhance the story rather than distract you from it.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

Let’s examine the story itself for just a moment. I found the adaptation from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” to be quite fascinating. Upon entering Bedlam, a hospital for the mentally ill, the audience is met with loud screams and noises from the Bedlam patients scattered throughout the hospital. The character Charles Dodgson, played by Johnathan Schofield, has been admitted to Bedlam due to his unpredictable epileptic seizures. He is visited regularly by his sister, Lorina, and his niece, Alice, played by Diana Little and Jessica MacQuarrie respectively. When Charles sees Alice, he recounts poems of the sea and sands which the Walrus and the Carpenter could not possibly sweep up. Back at home, the audience meets Alice’s older sister, Sarah, and her Aunt Hannah, as well as Edna, the house maid. After an upsetting and difficult argument with Lorina, Alice questions her mother’s motivation for placing her Uncle Charles in Bedlam, and what her world would be like if there were true examples of love around her. “Through the Looking Glass” is alluded to when Alice describes her desire to experience the world in the looking glass – that world in the mirror which seems to be identical, yet so very different. Alice decides to go back to Bedlam the next day and bring her uncle back home with the help of her Aunt Hannah. Upon her return home, she challenges her mother’s practice of “love” towards others. Alice questions her mother’s “love” for her brother and even for herself and Sarah. The play concludes in a small chapel. Lorina and Charles have their first encounter outside of Bedlam and it is still difficult for her to embrace her brother, but the slow process of change has begun. Charles then concludes his tale of the Walrus and the Carpenter, clasps Alice’s hand, and they exit the scene. The play was well written and beautifully painted a picture of both the need for and practice of self-sacrificial love.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

The vast space was used quite well. As an audience member I only had one small quibble with the space. Because it was so vast, there was a pretty noticeable and somewhat distracting echo in the Bedlam scenes. However, the actors compensated for this quite well and really made a deliberate effort to be clear with their words. The fact that it was an old mill with rust stains, broken windows, creaky floors, and pale green walls only added to the atmosphere of an unwelcoming insane asylum. The furniture used in Alice’s home adequately suggested the period as well as created a unique and visually appealing juxtaposition with the background of the mill walls and floor. Lighting of course was steady flood lighting. I would have liked to see colder lighting for the scenes in Bedlam rather than the warmer yellow hues that were used. Also, perhaps a different angle in which the lights were hung to create more shadows would have been an interesting choice. It wasn’t spectacle, but it was appropriately simple for the style of the production.

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

I absolutely loved the costume design. It was such an interesting collage of period dress, hint of steampunk, and modern design. The designer, Meghan Reimers, showed resourcefulness by transforming pieces that seemingly didn’t fit into the production design to create a beautiful ensemble. I found that the costumes were not over the top or out of touch with the overall style of the play. They were visually appealing but not distracting. Well done!

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Bedlam as I watched Alice and Charles’ story unfold. I completely forgot that I was standing for the entire time. I didn’t find the movement from scene to scene to be detracting from the flow of the play. The director handled those tricky transitions beautifully. I found myself disappointed at the end. No, not disappointed in the production, but disappointed that the story had already ended. I wanted to see more! I wanted to linger in the story, see more of those vivid and fascinating characters I had met in Bedlam, eavesdrop on more of the private conversations Alice had with herself as she wrote in her small journal, and hear more of Charles’ stories. I was fully caught up in the story and enjoyed the experience of moveable feast! Job well done to all who were involved!

photo credit: Matt Jones

photo credit: Matt Jones

Bio_Shots-5By Jessica Bowers

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