Alice Unwrapped

Urg. Another one that I’m in complete disagreement with the majority on. This is one that I’ve been hearing a lot about through the grapevine, to the point that at last one person teared up while he was recommending it to me. The show concluded in a nearly unanimous standing ovation. I say nearly unanimous, because I didn’t join in on account of apparently having a stunted sense of empathy.

I’ve seen Nautilus Music-Theater on and off for the past several years. They frequently take some very literate texts and set them to music. My impression is generally that these are incredibly technically proficient, but gain very little by being shifted to another medium.

This was, essentially, a one-woman show, a story told from the point of view of a teenager whose father is MIA in Iraq, and her attempts to hold her family together. Compelling stuff, and I suspect that I would have been riveted had the material been spoken. I also suspect that much of my hostility comes from a profound dislike for many of the conventions of musical theater: I found her performance excessively mannered, compounded by a series of exaggerated tics and mannerisms that made me want to say stop stop stop and just tell me what you have to say. This is less of a reflection on her as an actress — indeed, she found several moments of genuine emotion through the music — than it is on a style of performance that I’ve always found grating and jarring. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to overcome this sufficiently to reach the character behind it, so I found much of the hour tortuous.

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