Off with the phones, kids!

Updated: Sep 24, 2019, 07:53 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

Alice's adventures in wonderland get a modern-day retelling on the Mumbai stage

The finale scene of the musical
The finale scene of the musical

When the play's details mention that children aged two and above will be allowed, one can only pray it be captivating enough to keep the tiny ones intrigued. That did happen with the musical Alice @Wonderla­nd, a contemporary take on the classic written and directed by Jiji Subi and Vishaal Asrani that was performed at Sophia Bhabha auditorium last weekend.

The play begins with Alice (Avantika Kampani) and her friends — all tweens — being so severely addi­cted to gadgets and social media that they rarely communicate in person, even if they are right next to each other. When a dream spell is cast on them, Alice falls into the rabbit hole with her soft toy Vinnie (Anaya Kapur), the phone glued to her hand, growing restless due to lack of network. Sounds familiar? The storyline remains true to the original with frugal use of modern-day slang — a subtle reminder that Alice and Vinnie are from the present. And both their performances are strong enough to keep the audience hooked till the end.

The sets are enchanting and the intelligent use of the screen for special effects and the smart trick through which Cheshire Cat (Kairav Jhaveri) is omnipresent on the stage had the children in awe. The vibrant costumes by Kamini Asrani, Vishaal Asrani and Mama Big Studio Bangkok add to the scale of the musical. The performances of The King of Hearts (Jiji Subi) and the Queen of Hearts (Ananya Panchal) are engaging.

Thanks to Johnny Depp in the magnum opus Alice in Wonderland (2010), one expects a larger-than-life performance from the Mad Hatter (Andy Hegde) — but it does fall short in arousing interest in the character . The other characters including Fluffy the Rabbit (Hruditya Dalal), Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (Shook Jain and Andy Hegde), Bozo the Jester (Shlok Jain) and Lulu the Caterpillar (Urvee Garg) impress with their performances.

As Alice heads back to reality, moments before the beheading, the play ends with a strong thought-provoking message on understanding the perils of social media and FOMO — a must in times like now for parents and children both.

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