ALICE is Wonderful

Review by Ramona Pula

“Here Comes Alice!” – Opening Night, Monday 7-27-15, MITF 16
Writer: Mike Schofield
Director: Chelsea Thaler
Stage Manager/Board Operator: Xena Petkanas

Starring: Elaine Lo, John Whitney, Shannon Mac Ardhail,
Jack Corcoran, Joseph Anthony, Erika Grob, Chris Longfellow

Davenport Theatre, Main Stage, 354 W. 45th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues) 16th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival
Running Time: 45 minutes

“Here Comes Alice!” explores one man’s obsession with his lost love, Alice, (played by a charismatic Elaine Lo). Alice comes to Ted (John Whitney) again and again in his ruminations and dreams. She accuses him of being a liar and of cheating on her – you know, the usual romantic laments. What makes this exploration of love gone bad different is that it’s really Ted trying to figure out what went wrong and why he can’t love, which leads to the play having a delightful absurdist structure where anything goes.
The entire cast in this production is excellent. Shannon Mac Ardhail is a standout as Cop, as is Jack Corcoran as Judge. Alice files a complaint with Cop against Ted, which eventually leads to his trial presided over by Judge, who has some of the funniest lines in the play.

The costumes are entertaining. The lighting design is terrific, and Xena Petkanas executes the cues flawlessly.
Chelsea Thaler has done a fantastic job as director. I love the way the actors use the Davenport Main Stage space, for example when Alice watches Ted’s trial from the front row of the audience. The cast is obviously enjoying themselves and the ensemble is tight.

The play explores illusion versus reality in love, as when Cop says, “Ted, you’re in love with a woman who doesn’t exist.” Projecting our wishes and hopes onto someone is a common self-deception in affairs of the heart.

Ted concludes, “Obsession isn’t love. I have to remove her like a tattoo or a tumor.” His fixation on Alice is simultaneously his crime and punishment.

Many questions are asked, and we don’t always have the answer. Ted asks Cop, who is momentarily acting as his shrink, “What’s the proper way to love someone?” Alice asks Ted, “What kind of girl sleeps with a guy who lives with a girl? What does that say about me?” And God (Chris Longfellow) asks “How come no one plays jazz anymore?”

Rounding out the talented cast are Joseph Anthony as Attorney, and Erika Grob as Willie, Judge’s stenographer.
Playwright Mike Schofield’s dark sense of humor will keep me looking forward to seeing more of his work produced in the future.