The pyrotechnics of Lewis Carroll’s imagination thrive on the London stage inwonder.land, a new, hypermodernized tale of Alice and her follies. Kendall Jenner —with some fantastical friends—trips down the rabbit hole in the season’s splendors.
“The two Alices are not books for children,” Virginia Woolf wrote in 1939. “They are the only books in which we become children.” Generations of young readers might take issue with the first part of Woolf’s statement, but there’s no question that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass hold a singular power to send us tumbling down the rabbit hole into the delights and terrors of childhood.
That—not to mention the surreal wit and verbal acrobatics—may be the key to their enduring appeal 150 years after the first Alicebook was published. The anniversary is being marked around the world by museum exhibitions, scholarly conferences, and theatrical productions, most notably wonder.land (pronounced “wonder-dot-land”), a visually extravagant new musical adaptation opening at London’s National Theatre that brings Carroll into the Internet age. Staged by the National’s protean artistic director, Rufus Norris—whose recent productions there include David Hare’s adaptation of Behind the Beautiful Forevers and Everyman, with Chiwetel Ejiofor—with songs by Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn, it promises to be a heady finale to Alice’s birthday bash.
“This story—and its characters—is hugely imprinted on our collective cultural memory,” Norris says. “It has something very potent, albeit elusive—it slips away like the White Rabbit.”