Relax! Alice – a psychological riff on Wonderland
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
Down we go, once again, into that infamous rabbit hole that will lead Alice to Wonderland. Only this time Alice (Ming Peiffer) is an apprehensive young girl who has problems with her self image, has trouble sleeping, feels lonely, questions what is “normal”, has blackout episodes and has recently tried to commit suicide – prompting her mother to set up a meeting with Dr. Blythe (Fang Du) – a psychologist.
Alice arrives for her preliminary interview with Dr. Blythe which accounts for about one third of this 90 minute play - RELAX! ALICE - part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival.
Slowly he manages to have Alice open up. They play very well off one another. Eventually she admits to being someone else when she does sleep and being happier as that person. It’s obvious that she has trouble with reality and that she finds living her life extremely difficult. So what does he do? He prescribes medication – a bottle of pills that remain on the table between them - to make things easier. She declines and faints.
Scene change. Wonderland. The Dr. has become the Mad Hatter – using a completely different voice that works well. Alice remains complicated Alice. Ms. Peiffer is quite compelling in the part that she has written for herself. She is a talented actor and writer. RELAX! ALICE is an intriguing look at the relationship between Dr. and patient.
In this version of Wonderland the third character is Orchid (Caitlin Davis). Wearing a hat representing the live orchid that Alice is enchanted with in his office it has come to life to act out the Cheshire Cat. Ms. Davis is charming – silent for the most part but a strong presence.
Scene change. Back to reality. Dr. Blythe is trying to get Alice to awaken from her episode. She does and asks to go to the bathroom, secretly taking along the bottle of pills which the doctor does not notice until it’s too late.
It’s not clear what message Ms. Peiffer intends to get across although the writing for the most part is very interesting and the dialogue strong.
Director Kat Yen should have had the clock in the Dr.’s office removed or it should have been working.
Produced by the Spookfish Theatre Company
June Havoc Theatre 312 West 36 Street