Thomas Hampton Reviews PROJECT WONDERLAND, at Bootleg


Fifteen years ago, director/ adaptor Robert Prior’s Fabulous Monsters created Project:Alice; a piece based on the classic Alice in Wonderland.  Faced with an open spot in their calendar due to the delay of the newest $.99 show, Bootleg’s Alicia Hoge-Adams, Corbett Barklie, and Jessica Hanna have produced a re-tooled, revved up version, making great use of talent already lined up for the delayed $.99 show (including Ken Roht, John Ballinger, and innumerable members of the cast and crew.)

The show begins conventionally enough, in the real world of Reverend Charles Dodgeson, aka Lewis Carrol.  Soon enough, his doctor delivers some high grade opiates, and we follow the Reverend down his (and our) personal rabbit hole.

Just as PROJECT WONDERLAND is itself a telling of the Reverend’s personal journey/ hallucination; it truly excels at opening our (the audience’s) eyes to personal issues and questions we face in our own journeys through life.

Not that it is “all serious.”  The show is far from it.  It keeps the pacing light and fluffy with interludes and incorporation of shadow (and non-shadow) puppets, fantastical movement, costume, lighting, and song.

Early in the show, the ensemble rolls out a large mirror facing the audience.  A subtle reminder of our actual location IN a theater, as theatergoers, as we are able to spy the dark outlines of the audience (many other shows are employing self-reflexive techniques currently, including Twenty-Two at Knightsbridge that seats the audience on stage inside the set, and last season’s Family Planning by the Chalk Repertory which played INSIDE actual living rooms around the city.)

And as the Reverend makes his way (and takes us with him) deep within his priss and prim, and loosens the “proper” self-restraint, what are we to think?
I found myself questioning and affirming a tremendous sense of self… Who am I?  And who am I as I change, grow, and learn- emotionally, mentally, physically…

The caterpillar asks the Reverend/ Alice, “What size do you want to be?”
And I know that whatever size I am, or become; well, that is the perfect size.  Because as I learn to accept myself, fully accept who I am and what I desire; this acceptance allows me to find beauty in the most unexpected of places:  a neon garden, an over sized, outstretched leg of a Hatter, an undersea dance troupe… even an old bra factory on Beverly Boulevard.

Thematic content includes: Bring Kids, Redemption, Puppets, Singing, Live Music, Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor, Drug Use

PROJECT WONDERLAND runs from 1/15 to 2/7
Th,F,Sa at 8pm Sn at 3pm, $15-$25.
Map of Bootleg
Purchase Tickets
Visit the Bootleg Website
(Free parking available to Bootleg customers behind the Praise Christian Fellowship Church across the street at 2235 Beverly Blvd. Turn North on Roselake Ave. off of Beverly and the parking lot entrance will be on your left.)

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