Alice In Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland | Unsuk Chin/David Henry Hwang
Los Angeles Philharmonic/Los Angeles Opera/Barbican London
Direction, design, costume design, video Netia Jones
Illustrations Ralph Steadman
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“Chin’s music is paired with the meticulous creativity of British director-designer Netia Jones to create a multimedia spectacle that transforms the sombre interior of the Barbican Hall into a riot of colour and sensation. Jones takes Ralph Steadman’s acid 1970s pen and ink illustrations of Alice as her touchstone, bringing many to life as animations, and taking others as inspiration for costumes and characters. Colours are primary, designs are remixed, trippy versions of traditional styles, exaggerated and distorted for comic effect...its creative ingenuity and invention, visual and musical, make the journey a vivid and an entertaining one.”
The Arts Desk
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“Netia Jones’s fresh, deftly witty semi-staging, based on Ralph Steadman’s explosive drawings, served the story to perfection: via a screen Alice can fall down a rabbit hole, grow a mile high, encounter a smoking caterpillar with gyroscope eyes and find herself in a game of flamingo croquet on a lawn made of boys’ green hair.”
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“Jones’ inspired video projections draw on Ralph Steadman’s celebrated illustrations and her costumes and set designs demonstrate no less invention.”
“The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s two-performance run of “Alice” last weekend, directed and designed by the British theater artist Netia Jones, did not stint on the opera’s surreal trappings but stayed true to that fundamental sobriety... Ms. Jones’s staging, seen on Friday, was in wry, pinpoint ink. It was dominated by projections on an askew screen, making ample use of Ralph Steadman’s trippy, grotesque black-and-white “Alice” illustrations from the 1970s...pleasurably disconcerting”.
New York Times
“If all this exuberance sounds exhilarating, it was on Friday.
Chin's "Alice" is not childish. It is a dream opera with a dark side. Jones' inspiration, therefore, was to base her production on illustrations by Ralph Steadman...The hall became a vast set of black-and-white checkerboard design over the floor of the stage. Splats were everywhere onstage, on the costumes...Steadman personified Carroll's characters...Jones captivatingly turned these into animation, done in real time during the performance.
She also extended Steadman's influence into her costumes, but she followed her own fancy as well. Alice was a little girl. The Queen of Hearts had a hilariously over-styled 18th century look. With 100 costumes, the production had just about everything else in between, including the Mad Hatter as a businessman in bondage."
“In Netia Jones’s staging, cleverly extrapolated from Ralph Steadman’s illustrations, a giant eye blinks from an aperture on the video screen as the orchestra breathes into the first susurration of gongs and Alice succumbs to sleep.”
"Chin and her librettist, David Henry Hwang, have focused on the surreal side to Alice, in which they were well supported here by Netia Jones’s suggestive multimedia staging — part video, part cartoon, a spur to one’s imagination.”
“Perhaps the most impressive part of the evening was how marvelously the absurdity of Wonderland was realized on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage. Anyone who has a familiarity with the psychedelic tale Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas will attest, the talent of Ralph Steadman is a most appropriate visual accompaniment. Steadman’s illustrations were brought to life by director Netia Jones’ company Lightmap and a massive, interactive screen was the backdrop and set of the production in addition to the visualizations of some of the more absurd fauna in Wonderland.”
“With its Tenniel illustrations, Carroll’s original nonsense children’s classic came armed with a strong visual component, and Netia Jones’s staging, costume designs and use of skillfully animated Ralph Steadman cartoons were very much in that tradition.
As with many staged concert-performance these days, the video work and animations played a crucial role. Projected onto a madly tilted screen behind the orchestra, their trippy inventiveness...went hand in hand with Chin’s score.”
“There was a longer returns queue for this sell-out performance of Alice in Wonderland than for Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. That’s some indication of the heat generated by director/animator Netia Jones and composer Unsuk Chin… Netia Jones’s fresh, deftly witty semi-staging, based on Ralph Steadman’s explosive drawings, served the story to perfection: via a screen Alice can fall down a rabbit hole, grow a mile high, encounter a smoking caterpillar with gyroscope eyes and find herself in a game of flamingo croquet on a lawn made of boys’ green hair.”
Classical Music Magazine