Arts@Renaissance. By Third Rail Projects. Dir. Zach Morris. With ensemble cast. 2hrs. No intermission.
[Note: Since this review was written, Then She Fell has moved and reopened; it now plays on three floors of a church building in Williamsburg.]
At first blush, Then She Fell seems to be a small-scale cribbing of Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. Yes, you wander solo through intricately dressed rooms in a creepy building; yes, that man in a cravat is crawling up the wall in front of you. But you begin to realize that Third Rail Projects’ interactive riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books is using a similar language to give you a different experience: When you peer into the looking glass, it stares right back at you.
Performed in the former Greenpoint Hospital, the show only permits 15 audience members a pop—making for a distinctly intimate experience. You’re given a shot of mulled wine and a set of keys before nurses, Carroll characters and even the psychotropic author himself usher you through a combination Wonderland–psych ward. As in Sleep No More, no two individuals will have the same evening. You may find yourself taking dictation for the Hatter (the mesmerizing Elizabeth Carena), painting cream-colored roses red with the White Rabbit (Tom Pearson) or sitting down to the infamous tea party with the whole gang.
The experiences that director-designer-mastermind Zach Morris and his company offer are stunningly personal. You don’t have a mask to hide behind here—when you peep in on the Red Queen (Rebekah Morin) having a private breakdown, she catches you watching through the two-way mirror. And then—well, I don’t want to give away the game.
And it is a game; as you’re pulled from place to place, you begin to realize that Morris is moving audience members like pawns in Through the Looking-Glass’s giant chess set. And then, just as you’ve become curiouser and curiouser, it all ends too soon.
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Running time: 2hrs. No intermission.