Wonderland is in peril!—stuck in a time loop because the White Rabbit’s watch is missing gears. It’s up to Alice to find them through puzzle solving and character engagement. The online audience becomes Alice in Saving Wonderland, this interactive experience from Gamiotics Studios and presented at Next Stage Festival.
Through games and voting, the audience decides the specifics of the journey. This requires two screens (either two browser screens or a computer/phone pairing). The story unfolds over Zoom, but the gaming and voting happens over Gamiotics. Like a lot of interactive media, the chat feature is a joy here. My favourite aspect of this mode of entertainment is the running commentary from participants.
The presentation features many of the iconic characters from Lewis Carroll’s classic and a familiarity with it is helpful to provide some context for all of this. The topsy-turvy wordplay feels very true to Carroll and stands for itself, but the storytelling is in service of the game and not world-building. The costumes, though stylish, are minimalistic. We see these characters only in talking-head Zoom windows.
Despite the limitations of the tech, the actors manage to convey vivid and compelling portraits of Wonderland lunacy. Many of the cast are musical theatre pros and you can feel it—the dynamic phrasing, crisp delivery and precise timing are quietly thrilling.
Ben Boecker’s evocative score is another highlight and adds a cinematic flourish to the always looming potential awkwardness of the format.
Saving Wonderland is fun and engaging enough for its 75 minute runtime. This is an ideal presentation for a shared family experience. The characters and gaming are simple enough for younger participants.