I tend to pride myself on sticking through performances to the end, no matter how annoying, but made an exception last night for Alice in Wonderland. At the intermission I bailed.
I remember begin thunderstruck when I encountered Unsuk Chin’s Double Concerto on KUSC a few years ago. She writes rich, powerful, and exciting instrumental music. Vocal music, unfortunately, is not her thing. Nor theater.
This Alice was doomed from the start by the execrable libretto by David Henry Hwang. Neither Hwang nor Chin demonstrated any awareness of the musical or poetic value of Lewis Carroll’s words. Hwang’s interpolated additional doggerel (e.g. for the Caterpillar) was stupefyingly crude.
Ralph Steadman’s video and décor provided the happiest moment—the children’s chorus wearing pink mouse heads popping up from the stage floor—but it wasn’t enough.
[Image: Portrait of Madame Cézanne (Roy Lichtenstein, 1962)]