Infinitely pleased with itself and sweet as three packs of Splenda, but just as unsatisfying. I understand the hype—there are lots of impressive acrobatics, elaborate costumes and a few very funny actors playing multiple roles who seem to be having the time of their lives—but “Alice” is nothing more than spectacle sandwiched between pat messages about growing up, with a kind of surrealism more chaotic than playful—I divided my time between being bored and completely baffled (Piles of shoes falling from the ceiling? Alice repeating inspirational messages to herself ad nauseum as she swings on ropes?). Constant loud “surprise!” noises and bright lights turned on the audience, with just as frequent pauses for the audience to clap, make the show feel like a circus-cum-elementary school pageant, with a wide-eyed and excited Alice mirroring how impressed we are supposed to be by it all, but the show simply drags, with far too much filler. The highlight of “Alice” is a re-imagining of Tweedledee and Tweedledum as adolescent boys out to impress Alice, complete with hip-hop dance moves and buffoonery, but for every creative gesture there’s an ill-conceived moment when the audience has to squirm through, for example, Alice sitting down in front of an older audience member’s chair and forcing her to have a horribly awkward tea party with her. To cap it all off, Lewis Carroll himself makes an appearance at both beginning and end with an affected song about Alice to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” that I was amused to find no children in the audience would sing along to when instructed. (Monica Westin)
At the Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan, (312)337-0665. Thu 3pm & 7pm/Fri-Sat 7:30pm/Sun 3pm. $30-$60. Through Aug 3.