WONDERING IN ALICELAND
nytheatre.com review by Robin Reed
Alice Spritz is god.
August 15, 2003
That’s what she discovered in January 1995. At the height of the OJ Simpson trials, Alice, a Baltimore transplant in the City of Angels, learned that she was the chosen one. At least that’s what the voices in her head kept telling her.
Wondering in Aliceland is Spritz’ personal tale of mania and madness. It’s a ride on the crazy train filled with anti-depressants, hallucinations, and a bad job (which would not seem so bad were it just a hallucination). Spritz spent much of the mid-nineties in what she calls "numb disbelief," most likely thanks to the lithium. She had a lot on her plate and what she serves up here in FringeNYC is a clever dish of universal insanity. Alice had all the ladies in the audience nodding along in agreement with her dating horror stories that make the Sex and the City girls look like virgins.
The strength and weakness of this piece lay in the same place: the motley crew of zany sidekicks. Spritz paints a vivid portrait of the whackos that got her to the place where she has this story to tell. Her writing is strong, but the characters she steps into are too big for a cast of one. They’re so rich and full and funny that I wanted them there in the flesh. Nurse Ratchett, Niko, Carlos, that bitchy boss, and the messiah-prince Alice meets in the loony bin could give a bunch of actors some delicious stuff to dive into. It could also give Spritz a little break from the confines of the staid and rehearsed structure of the piece. Her resume and talents lean more towards improvisation, as was visible when she covered a few minor technical snags. It’s always in the error that we see the truth, and the real Alice was much more charming and engaging than the standup comic-ish Alice who was saying her lines and hitting her marks.
Overall, Aliceland is a fun place to visit on your Fringe Summer Vacation.