Review: Alice by Heart, starring Molly Gordon
Set against the backdrop of war, terminal illness, and loss, Alice By Heart is not your typical retelling of the Wonderland story. Beginning in a London Underground station that acts as a makeshift bunker during the London Blitz, Alice (Molly Gordon) falls down the rabbit hole with her dying dearest friend, Alfred, in a bid to have more time with him before he dies. Everyone Alice and Alfred are in the bunker with become the people they meet as they move through the story, with Alice as Alice and Alfred becoming the White Rabbit.
Coming from the creators of Spring Awakening, it is no surprise that the score is as beautiful as it is, making it a high point of the production. However, the book is all over the place, as it transitions from Wonderland to London and back again, with some nonsensical elements that are even too much for the fictional land.
The cast is talented, no doubt about it, and standout performances include Colton Ryan as Alfred/The White Rabbit/March Hare, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tabatha/Cheshire Cat/Caterpillar 2, Grace McLean as Red Cross Nurse/Queen of Hearts/Magpie, and Wesley Taylor as Harold/Mad Hatter/Pigeon/Knave of Spades/Mock Mock Turtle. And while Molly Gordon's Alice is the center of the story, her performance leaves you wanting more from the character that is supposed be the reason we are in Wonderland, though she ends up being overshadowed.
The set and costume design work well in merging the fantastical Wonderland to the harshness of the London Blitz. Book pages of Alice in Wonderland are cleverly incorporated into some character's costumes and hospital cots turn around to reveal pictures of Wonderland.
So while the show stands out musically and in its design elements, it falls short in other places, leaving you wanting so much more from the world of Wonderland.