Object theatre added a touch of magic to Wonderland

Tram Theatre’s first tour of Bangalore saw a packed house at Ranga Shankara for their Alice in Wonderland show. Based on Lewis Carroll’s novel of the same name, the troupe reimagined the story using object theatre. Much like puppetry, object theatre concerns itself with the animation of inanimate objects. The difference is that unlike in puppetry, these objects aren’t constructed but pre exist. Tram Theatre used this to startling effect to recreate the Cheshire Cat and its many transformations- kitchen utensils will never look the same again.

The Delhi-based troupe largely stuck to the script, with a frame story in an urban setting. Four people stuck in monotonous routines break away to engage in a flight of fantasy down the rabbit hole, to the secret door, through tunnels and a tea party and finally to the secret garden. While the major trajectory of the storyline remained the same, it was shortened to accommodate its one-hour running time and adapted to suit the purposes of object theatre. The Hatter, March Hare and nonsense rhymes were sorely missed, although there was a single attempt to include the latter.

With dialogue mostly in English with a smattering of Hindi, the performers sang, danced and moved their way to the ending. Along the way they made attempts to include the largely under ten audience, who willingly responded. And while certain portions, clearly intended to be humorous didn’t work due to over dramatization and substandard dialogue delivery, Choiti Ghosh, the director and protagonist, put up a spirited performance. Watch out for the ingenious scene where she ‘falls’ down the rabbit hole. Other scenes like the first view of the secret garden are almost magical with rabbits multiplying and picnic hampers flying. And if the troupe is as innovative with their characters as they are with their props, this production could soon be a must watch on the itinerary of adults and children alike.

The sore point in this play was the ending, wherein the beautiful illusions that were the shadows and objects were rudely interrupted. Tram Theatre’s commentary on current day fast-paced lives is certainly not new, but it is inventive. Recent plays such as Romeo and Juliet-No Strings Attached have used a similar escape mechanism to enter the story-characters bored with their humdrum existence who take to the world of fiction to act out their hopes and wishes. But watch this one for an introduction to a new theatre practice and a different way of perceiving things around you.