Monday, September 24, 2018

REVIEW: Promenade Style Alice Leads to Exciting Evanston Explorations Through October 21st

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:
Alice by Upended Productions
**Recommended for ages six and up**

ChiIL Mama's Chi, IL Picks List:

A drag queen Red Queen in a flower shop, a disaster drill in a stairwell beneath a hidden mural, school angst tweedle dee and tweedle dum style, a torch-song midlife crisis, a poetic brewery basement adventure, ballet in a convenience store and more, await patron on this utterly unique journey. 

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

For Chapter 8, Quinn of SADHAUS is The Queen in a red wrap at Cultivate: An Urban Rainforest.
Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill 

My 17 year old son and I caught opening weekend, September 23rd, and the show made such a big impression it spawned a college app short answer question where my son declared the character he'd most like to meet is The Cheshire Cat, because of his convoluted logic. We thoroughly enjoyed becoming Alice and following the white rabbit into a theatre filled, alternate Evanston. 

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

ShowParty’s Beth Richards (glasses and tulle under the table) tackles Chapter 7 at the train station tea party. Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill 

We were particularly enamored with the surreal hatchback car film and the train platform tea party with real tea. This playful, participatory production manages to be at once vibrantly original and true to the spirit of the original books, full of deep wisdom couched in delicious absurdity and child's play. The collaborative  nature of this show, involving so many different theatre companies and Evanston businesses, is amazing.

Photos by B. Kenaz-Mara for

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

Though officially listed for ages 6 and up, there were few elementary age children in our group, though the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Overall, I'd say it's geared for teens and up. Most of the costumes are minimal and monologues deep, so younger children might be confused and frustrated, but it's a delight for adults. 

Factory Theater ensemble member Corrbette Pasko as the Rabbit is disturbed by reading material at the Chicago-Main Newsstand. Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill 

Also note, this production does require quite a bit of quick walking, lots of standing, and several sets of stairs, if you have ambulatory issues. 

Neo-Futurist alumna Dina Marie Walters (green dress and white apron) as the Rabbit keeps her audience hopping under the CTA tracks. Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill 

Also, if you're coming up from Chicago, leave more than plenty of extra time, beyond what your maps app says, or you'll be running in as frazzled as the chronically late rabbit, and may miss your group's departure time! If it's sold out and you've been unable to get tickets, show up and you may get lucky and be able to join in on the spot if there are no-shows.

The goody bags at the close, with local coupons, were a nice surprise as well. I went back and enjoyed a tasty local microbrew with my "wooden nickle" dollar off coin while I contemplated the show. Upended Productions' Alice is a fabulously fun community collaboration. Highly recommended.

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

Photo by B. Kenaz-Mara for

The Factory Theater’s Risha Hill covers Chapters 2 and 3 of the adventure 
in the canning/barrel room at Sketchbook Brewing Co.
Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill 

Alice by Upended Productions; Photos by Jenn-Anne Gledhill
Neo-Futurist alumni David Kodeski reads from his Dream Diary for Chapter 4 in the Sketchbook Brewing basement.

Alice by Upended Productions
Featuring Factory, Mudlark, Fleetwood-Jourdain, ShowParty 
& Others

This unique, promenade style show shares book chapters among diverse Chicagoland theater companies, visual and film artists and musicians. This 90-minute event requires walking and standing. Rain or shine.

“ALICE displays impeccable logistical skill and a striking sense of space; in the best environmental theater tradition, it renews the audience's sense of wonder at their surroundings” – Newcity Stage (2014)

“ALICE is that rare environmental experience that takes its subject seriously yet embraces a self-deprecating sense of humor” – Chicago Reader (2004)

Upended Productions remounts ALICE, the ambulatory, multi-disciplinary theatrical experience, curated by Neo-Futurist alumna Noelle Krimm. The audience, traveling in groups of 15, follows a white rabbit to various locations throughout Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile neighborhood.

Ducking into storerooms and back patios, through bookstores and breweries, the audience IS Alice and southeast Evanston becomes a wonderland. 

Runs Saturdays and Sundays through October 21
Tours begin at 1 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m., & 2 p.m. 

Meet at LaCapra State Farm office, 829 Chicago, Evanston, IL
Subsequent locations include Sketchbook Brewing Co, Booked, La Principal, Cultivate, Reprise Coffee Roasters, 10,000 Villages, and Squeezebox Books & Music.

CTA: Main Street Purple EL
Street and metered public parking lots around Main & Chicago Aves.
$25 for single tickets; $17 for students and seniors with ID
Space is limited so advance purchase is highly recommended:  

This promenade production features original work by The Factory, Mudlark Theater, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater, ShowParty, singer/ songwriter Naomi Ashley, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Logan Kibens, and current and former ensemble members of The Neo-Futurists, Theatre Oobleck, Barrel of Monkeys, and Wildclaw Theater, including David Kodeski, Corrbette Pasko, Laura McKenzie, Josh Zagoren, and Dina Walters. 

This project is partially supported by a grant from the Evanston Arts Council, an agency supported by the City of Evanston.

Neo-Futurist alumna Noelle Krimm founded Upended Productions in 2014. Productions are not confined to conventional theater spaces to provide performance frameworks for artists of all disciplines to come together and create unexpected, innovative, multi-disciplinary work. Shows are performed in and around local neighborhoods, surprising and delighting audiences, bringing visibility and vitality to community businesses.

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