‘Alice in Wonderland’ at The Puppet Co. is pure chaos and delight

In this wild production that the young audience thoroughly enjoyed, Alice falls down the rabbit hole and engages with all sorts of crazy characters.

The Puppet Co. presents Alice in Wonderland, adapted by Elizabeth Dapo from Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Director Kenzy Hinkel leads a trio of puppeteers in this wild production that the young audience thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve always loved The Puppet Co. Nestled in the beautiful Glen Echo Park, it’s been one of my very favorite venues for over a decade, which is why I jumped at the chance to review this show even though…here I go…I’ve never liked Alice in Wonderland. As a former English Literature major and a lover of children’s literature, I’ve tried to love it. I wanted to love it. Every few years I picked up the book (again) or watched another film adaptation, willing myself to experience the marvel and joy in the oddity that so many others treasured. It never happened, and while I’m mostly alright with that (not everything is for everyone, I get it), I’ll admit to a spark of jealousy whenever I see someone’s eyes light up at the mention of Alice. Where they see wonderment and adventure, I saw a mangled jumble of weirdness that I could never make any sense of, and it made me feel like I was being left out of a special secret. So when I saw that my beloved Puppet Co. took on this tale, I thought: well, if they can’t make me enjoy Alice, nothing or no one ever would.

The Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Before the show, lead performer Ingrid Bork welcomes the children and shows them how the large rod puppets work, using the large stuffed “white rabbit” puppet as an example. The children are immediately interested, and as she answers their questions, Bork compares Alice to a “weird dream.” “Do you ever have weird dreams?” she asks, and as every small hand shoots up, she says, “They don’t make a lot of sense, but they’re fun!” I needed to hear that. Something in my inner child clicked, and I settled in with renewed hope.

In this adaptation, a modern-day Alice’s tablet runs out of battery and her sister encourages her to read a book while it charges. Alice shows disdain at the idea of reading, especially a book without pictures, but decides to give it a try. What follows is 50 minutes of pure chaos and delight. We watch as Alice falls down the rabbit hole and engages with all sorts of crazy characters, from the well-known Cheshire Cat to a gecko wearing a large powdered wig. Alice plays croquet using a flamingo as a mallet and a hedgehog as a ball. She argues with two rude women about how much pepper they’re putting in their soup, and goes to soothe a crying baby that, in a blink, becomes a swaddled pig. After attending a chaotic tea party, riding a hippogriff, and escaping an angry queen, Alice finds herself back home, excited to discuss the adventures with her sister.

Andrew Quilpa and Madeline Regina join Ingrid in puppeteering, and the puppets (designed by Elizabeth Dapo) are as colorful, lively, and intricately detailed as I remember. Dapo is also responsible for the set design, as well as lighting and projections. Songs composed by Tommy Sherrod complete the atmosphere, and the children all seemed to have a fantastic time. The audience is welcome to chat and take pictures with the puppets and performers after the show, which is very special and memorable.

For a fun-packed afternoon with your children, you can’t beat a visit to Glen Echo Park and The Puppet Co. I have never not enjoyed one of their productions, and while I still wouldn’t call myself an Alice in Wonderland fan, I was finally able to experience the magic quality that makes this story beloved by so many.

Running Time: 50 minutes, no intermission.

Alice in Wonderland plays through May 19, 2024 (Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 am, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 am and 1 pm), at the Puppet Co. Playhouse, 7300 Macarthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD, 20812. Purchase tickets ($15 per person, under age 2 no ticket required) by calling 301.634.5380 or order them online.

Recommended for ages 4+.

COVID Safety: Masks are strongly encouraged for all patrons age 2 and older.


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