Beyond Manhattan’s borders sits one of my other favorite boroughs, Brooklyn. Easy to get to and with a cool factor of 10 (on a 1 to 10 scale), this New York neighborhood is replete with fab, fun and definitely funky, things to do. Now, I don’t know if Brooklynites drink a different water than we do on the other side of the river, but there’s just a certain “coolness” to those who claim this burgeoning borough, “home”.
Of course, wanting to sit at the cool kids table, I definitely drink the Kool-Aid when believing that Brooklyn has some of the best New York City has to offer. Whether a new dining destination, an art exhibit or a funky mixture of both, New York’s niftiest nabe has something for everyone.
Last year, after having attended (and raved endlessly about) an experiential performance called Sleep No More (in Manhattan), I heard about a similar show in Brooklyn, Then She Fell – the story of Alice in Wonderland as told through an interactive performance. Intrigued, I immediately investigated it, and added it to my famous (and long) list of awesome NYC adventures I have documented in my Iphone.
Since then, I haven’t stopped thinking about the day I’d be able to attend, and last night, this list wish was fulfilled. A girlfriend and I were feeling spontaneous (and rich apparently – each ticket is $125) and around 6:00 PM, hopped on the L train toward Bushwick. Not knowing what to expect and having done limited research (it adds suspense to the experience) we got off on Grand ave and ready for an adventure.
As we looked for 195 Maujer Street, we didn’t see anything that resembled a venue where such a performance could take place. Finally, after finding a tiny sign hoisted on a fence that read “Your journey starts here”, we had arrived at our new adventure.
Situated next to a church, this old, seemingly abandoned building was the venue for this immersive theatre experience we were about to embark upon. As we entered, a woman in a white lab coat with a clipboard in hand greeted us. We checked in and she directed us to another room, but not before she warned us there’d be no speaking unless spoken to.
As we entered the next phase of the adventure, we were seated in what looked like an old doctor’s office. There, we were each handed a set of antique keys and encouraged to poke around, but not to open unopened doors. Throughout the room, there were clues, pieces of history if you will, about the story of Alice In Wonderland. As we played detective, we were handed elixirs (magic potions I’m assuming) to help us navigate the rest of Alice’s world.
Soon, after about 15 minutes, and another set of instructions, we were whisked away to yet another alcove. Some of us to one, and some to another, it was there the journey truly began. My first encounter was witnessing Alice meet the White Rabbit for the first time. Alice, a dark haired girl dressed in a blue skirt, danced and skipped around with the whimsical Rabbit. As we watched them, we were hand-fed grapes – a rather sensual experience – as we continued to observe the story, as written by Lewis Carroll, unfold before our eyes.
The Rabbit swung chandeliers and jumped on the table in a rather playful way. Soon, the lights dimmed and our attention was redirected to another scene – one where the Queen of Hearts was engaged in a love/hate scene with a man whom I presume to be Mr. Carroll. As we watched from the other side of a glass window, it was interesting to understand where the creators of the performance were going with the story.
Though not literally portrayed, the artistic interpretation of this beloved childhood story was otherworldly and extraordinary. Every 15 minutes or so, we were guided into other rooms and scenes to help us continue to live out the story of Alice in Wonderland. Some of the highlights included being read a bedtime story (while laying down next to a stranger), entering the Mad Hatters’ workshop, and attending the ever so famous tea party, broken tea saucers and all!
For two hours, the story played out, with intricate and intense carefully planned choreography, introducing us to the mad and wild world of Alice in Wonderland as created by Lewis Carroll, but from the perspective of an outsider also depicting the somewhat perverse love story between Carroll and Alice. And in the end, we received a note and some tea (another special elixir), sharing the story of Alice and Carroll, in a most poetic form.
An entertaining and creative rendition of this classic tale, it is something you’ve not experienced before, and should definitely consider. And while on the rather expensive side of leisurely activities to partake in New York City, this exclusive, immersive experience is definitely worth the trip and money. You may never come back after entering the rabbit hole!