INSIDE LEWIS CARROLL’S ANTI-DISNEY WONDERLAND PSYCH WARD
Performed throughout three floors of a church building (doubling as a pysch hospital) in Brooklyn is a theater company who for the past 5 years has been immersing small groups of guests into the trippy world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
When you first Google ‘Then She Fell’ don’t be skeptical. This isn’t a small-scale knockoff version of the McKittrick’s ‘Sleep No More,' this is a different experience which will make you do a double-take as you wonder, “Did the looking glass just stare right back at me?"
Distinctly more intimate than anything else you've ever experienced, Third Rail Projects limits each performance to 15 people, who are then divided into smaller and smaller groups (and ultimately down to the solo individual), drawing you in as soon as you taste the strangely flavored elixir you’re handed upon arriving. Nurses, Carroll characters and the eccentric author himself lead you on a mind-bendingly personal journey (no two individuals go down the same path) through Kingsland Ward as you find yourself taking more elixirs from nurses, participating in the Mad Hatter’s infamous crazy tea party (rotating seats and all), painting roses red with the White Rabbit, answering the personal questions Alice asks you from inside a tiny closet, and even taking dictation for Carroll himself.
Please, do not open any of the doors.
If you’ve never been to an immersive theater performance be aware, you’re not just watching, you are being watched. No matter what mirror or window you happen to be peeping through, there is nowhere to hide, because undoubtedly the Red Queen is going to catch you out of the corner of her eye.
This is when you begin to realize that director mastermind Zach Morris and his company are using the audience like pawns in a chess game (which trust me is a reference that will come back to you later in the performance). Just like Alice, your placement, and what you are whisked away to participate in, will make you even curiouser and curiouser. And if you’re like me will have you smiling in these awkward situations – only to be confronted with a suspicious smile back from the White Rabbit.
This isn’t Disney’s Alice.
Two hours will pass in a hazy blur as you wander through the building’s expertly transformed creepy, almost maze-like interior, with elaborately arranged rooms and two way mirrors. It’s as if you're a child spying on adults. What they're doing doesn’t always make sense, but it's hard not to watch.
This isn’t Disney’s Alice, this is how Carroll intended her, and be aware there are two of her throughout this performance. Following the boundless imaginations of children is the path Carroll (and Third Rail Projects) wants you to take through the looking glass, and it’s this fantastical approach to our thoughts, fears and desires (coupled with the ambiguous references made towards Carroll's questionable feelings towards the real Alice Liddell), that wind you throughout the eerily erotic performance.
Nothing will be explained and there is no time for questions, so make sure to brush up on your Carroll knowledge beforehand, while also utilizing the set of keys you were given upon your arrival. After all, you are encouraged to rummage through the cabinets, trunks and boxes in each of the rooms – even when the actors are performing.
The ticket price really is worth it.
For many theater is an escape, and you want to feel validated in the price you just paid for your ticket. This is the thing about immersive theater, you’re a part of the world that is being created by the performers. Not only are you getting the escape you were looking for, you move past the abstract and physically inhabit another world for 2 hours. Can you say the same of a Broadway show (nothing against Broadway shows)?
The other thing about experiencing something as special as 'Then She Fell', when your phone also needs to be locked into filing cabinets, is the element of secrecy. This worthwhile decadence is something to be experienced, not to be given completely away on the internet or social media. So, sorry guys you won’t be getting any more out of me.
To enter a world as foreign as a mental ward Wonderland it requires you to look past the ticket price and into an experience that will most certainly engage your senses in a way any other entertainment experience cannot.
Do yourself a favor. The next time you visit The Big Apple skip Broadway and head to Brooklyn. It’s too hard to get those 'Hamilton' tickets anyways.
'Then She Fell' celebrated its 5-year anniversary earlier this month after more than 3,000 performances. The show has now been extended through the end of April 2018 and runs Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30pm & 10:30pm at 195 Maujer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tickets are priced between $95 - $200 and are strictly limited to audiences 21+ years of age.
For more information and tickets visit the site HERE.
BIG thank you to Joshua and Michael at Third Rail Projects for setting me up with this unforgettable night!
Don't forget to pin this image below! It should be added to your NY Bucket List!