Let me begin this review by pointing out that it is impossible to do Then She Fell justice with words. The moment you enter the former outpatient building of Greenpoint Hospital in north Brooklyn you become part of a strange and fascinating “Wonderland” and the next two hours feel like a dream.
A show can’t get more immersive than this adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. With only 15 audience members per show this is an intimate and very personal experience. You are checked in by a nurse bearing a clipboard planting the suspicion that you might be a patient in a mental institution. After a short introduction the audience is picked up – some one at a time, some in small groups – and let to different rooms of the building. From now on everyone will experience a different show making this a completely individual journey. You will meet Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter amongst other characters.
Most of the words in the show are by Lewis Carroll and if you explore the rooms you will find his poems and prose in drawers. If you are unfamiliar with Alice in Wonderland the whole experience will probably be highly confusing, maybe even frustrating. Nothing is explained as you are lead from room to room, encountering character after character. Everything seems to happen in a dreamlike daze – the fact that several scenes include alcoholic drinks might have something to do with that (you have to be 21 to attend the regular shows, however there are special non-alcoholic shows for the younger audience).
Then She Fell makes you feel like a child watching adults and their self-important, social rituals that make no sense but are both creepy and thrilling. The show addresses the love of Lewis Carroll for Alice Liddell, amongst other things, a love that seems uncomfortably erotic when you look at photographs he took of the young girl. But Then She Fell does not dwell on these images. Lewis Carroll becomes a character amongst the characters he created. He is a part of Wonderland just like Alice and all the others.
There is no way to describe the scenes you discover while walking through the building without giving some of the magic away. So all I will say is that you might find yourself as participant in a completely mad tea party, you might end up taking dictation for the Hatter or have a very personal conversation with Alice about your first love.
Some might say Then She Fell feels like a two hours Punchdrunk one on one. A lot of the things you will see are performed for you and only for you at that very moment. You will be invited to participate and even though you don’t get to choose your journey yourself everything you see and discover feels unexpected and new.
Then She Fell is a unique and quite simply wonderful experience that is worth every penny. Smaller and more intimate than Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More and The Drowned Man this show guarantees interaction and complete immersion. You might feel slightly uncomfortable to be in the center of the performers’ attention at first but once you allow yourself to settle into Wonderland you will feel an unbelievable thrill.
Then She Fell is a mad journey through Wonderland, an insane rollercoaster ride that will sweep you off your feet and occupy your thoughts for days and weeks after you have left the building. All you have to do is follow the rabbit hole.
Then She Fell takes place at The Kingsland Ward at St. Johns. For more info visit http://thenshefell.com.