We went to the ballet. I was given a pair of free tickets to go see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Wonderland, and I hadn't been to the ballet in quite a while, so off we went.
I would like to be able to tell you I loved it! What culture!, because I don't want to look like some kind of uncultured boob and I love Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland and the review in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix was good, but I'm maybe going to have to look like some kind of uncultured boob, because I didn't love it.
The set was amazing. You can't tell from the above picture, because I was a good citizen and put my camera away during the performance. They used panels and gauzy curtains, light and video projection, and wheeled white boxes to create a pared down yet entirely otherworldly set that completely captured me. I've never seen anything quite like it, and the set was marvellous enough that it nearly made the show worth seeing. The choreography, though, left a lot to be desired if you were looking for any clear thread of a storyline or relationships between characters during most of the performance.
The least engaging character throughout the entire ballet was the main character of Alice, which is weird, because she was on the stage most of the time, but half that time was spent either slowly wandering or running from one end to the other while other characters were being far more engaging. Engaging, though, is relative, because, even though I am highly familiar with the characters in the story, I was hard pressed to recognize who many of them were during the performance.
For the most part, the choreography between characters did little to flesh out the relationships between them, and so the storyline was often unclear if completely obscured, even for me, a person who owns several volumes of the story in question. Neither I nor the Palinode even figured out who the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle were until after the ballet was over.
The Queen of Hearts and the Dormouse were the only truly stand-out characters, and they were fabulous. The Queen of Hearts was a large and loud and comical mess of a personality, but the marked strength of her character, although the saving grace of the entire ballet as one of the few characters to have clear relationships within the story, also managed to underscore the weakness of the other roles.
The dancers were more than competent, and the sets were fantastic, but the lacklustre treatment of the character of Alice was not a strong enough thread to pull me through the chaos that was Wonderland. The performances and sets, while beautiful to watch as parts separate from the whole, created little sense of a storyline when strung together, and, as the ballet fell further and further into a sense of muddled disconnection, I fought off the urge to leave.