NY Theater Review by Eric J. Grimm
I can’t help but admire the interactive theater craze that transforms unused buildings into labyrinthine theater sets in which audiences can watch scenes from all angles, touch the props, and make direct connections with the characters. Third Rail Projects’ Then She Fell, a moody and sexy take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, is Williamsburg’s own major interactive theater destination, having recently celebrated its 1000th performance. A hospital ward in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Williamsburg serves as a confinement for some of Carroll’s signature characters like the Mad Hatter (Brighid Greene) and the White Rabbit (Joshua Reaver). With a full commitment from the company and creative team, the experience is, undoubtedly, worthwhile and a fine representation of the format.
With little else to compare it to, it seems appropriate to draw parallels to Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. It’s perhaps not quite as detailed and massive as the very popular adaptation of Macbeth at the McKittrick Hotel, but Then She Fell is certainly more personal. With a small group of fifteen, each audience member gets plenty of time to interact with characters, who frequently offer food and alcoholic beverages. Then She Fell is also a tightly constructed and guided adventure. Characters will often steer you in different directions as opposed to a more “choose your own adventure” scenario. My own journey led me to an eerily intimate moment with one of the two characters representing Alice. This one, seductively played by Haylee Nichele, had me help her get dressed while she quizzed me on my love life. It was a delightfully uncomfortable experience that forced me to abandon my idea of a separation between performers and audience members.
The show is dance-heavy, sometimes to its detriment. Scenes in which characters use small spaces or stairs to execute complicated dances (think Fred Astaire by way of Freddy Krueger) work marvelously. The less inventive dances tend to go on a bit too long. Sections like this beg for a few more bells and whistles from the production team, though it could be that I’m merely a glutton for this type of immersive experience. There is plenty for the senses to feast upon in this stylish and well-executed project and it bodes well for future adventures from Third Rail Projects.
Current Company: Rachel I. Berman, Carly Berrett, Lia Bonfilio, Elizabeth Carena, Alberto Denis, Lindsey Dietz Marchant, Brighid Greene, Carolyn Hall, Julia Kelly, Roxanne Kidd, Madison Krekel, Mary Madsen, Rebekah Morin, Zach Morris, Haylee Nichele, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Tara O’Con, Tom Pearson, Joshua Reaver, Edward Rice, Zoe Schieber, Jessy Smith, Niko Tsocanos, Carlton Cyrus Ward, and Jennine Willett.
Written, Directed, Designed and Choreographed by Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett.
Then She Fell is playing through January 15, 2017 at Kingsland Ward at St. John’s (195 Maujer St. Brooklyn, NY). Tickets are available at http://thenshefell.com/tickets/.
Photos: Daniel Sneed