We were delighted to see that on her day off the lovely National Ballet of Canada ballerina, Sonia Rodriguez, who with her pristine arabesque did her best to lend sparkle to Christopher Wheeldon‘s lumbering three-act ballet, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” took a tour of our Wonderland-on-the-Pacific. Welcome to life through the looking glass, Sonia.
The Wheeldon production, sadly The Royal Ballet‘s first new full-length work in fifteen years (co-commissioned by the Canadians), disappointed. The adventurous Alice, who upon the instruction “Drink me” shrinks down, and then, when commanded to “Eat me,” balloons up, similarly slipped through the choreographer’s grasp. Some things are too big, too profound, to get your arms around and Lewis Carroll‘s rarefied masterpiece seems to have stymied Wheeldon. His kitchen sink of disconnected episodes bumped and thumped to Jody Talbot‘s discombobulating music, while Bob Crowley‘s clunky mise-en-scene (a huge design failure, his use of red displeased) paraded before the audience. The biggest let down was that the choreographer, although a Briton, did not deliver a ripping Mad Tea Party. How could he mess that up?
Wheeldon and his all-male production team — this is now standard — got undone by the plucky lass Alice. You go girl!