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Carly Bawden (Alice), Leon Cooke and Sam Archer in wonder.land at the National Theatre

Carly Bawden (Alice), Leon Cooke and Sam Archer in wonder.land at the National Theatre

When wonder.land premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July, reviews were decidedly mixed. National press who made the trip north were underwhelmed, bestowing a raft of three-star ratings, while local critics were kinder, bumping it up to a four-star show. In the intervening months, rumour has it, there’s been extensive redevelopment of this digital-age Alice in Wonderland, the latest collaboration between composer (and Blur frontman) Damon Albarn and director Rufus Norris (now at the NT helm).

So… have time and tinkering improved wonder.land, now receiving its London premiere at the National Theatre?

Unfortunately not, judging by the overnight reviews. A quick scan shows two stars seem to be the norm this time round. While many critics applaud the ambition of the project and are dazzled by the computer-generated projections that bring the online world to life, they remain less impressed by the overall sum of the musical’s parts.

I’ve rounded up the latest round of reviews, news and features on wonder.land below – click here to see my previous Press Pass from the show’s Manchester opening.

wonder.land is currently booking at the National’s Olivier Theatre until 30 April 2016.


What the papers – and others – say

REVIEWS
EVENING STANDARD – ★★
HENRY HITCHINGS: This deranged musical feels cluttered, confused and overstuffed. A dazzling dive into the surreal lacks tunes…. It’s a fair representation of a show that’s billed as  “Alice for the online generation” and certainly manages to seem miles away from quaint Victoriana…
THE TIMES – ★★
ANN TRENEMAN: Whirls of fun, but the heart is missing… Curiouser and curiouser. That’s wonder.land, the play about a girl named Aly who escapes down the rabbit hole that is the internet,

to play a game called you know what. “Www dot wonder.land,” sings M.C., apparently Mr Cat, as in Cheshire…

DAILY MAIL – ★★
QUENTIN LETTS: For its big Christmas opening the Royal National Theatre has come up with a druggy, inner-city Lewis Carroll spin-off which re-imagines ‘Alice in Wonderland’. That children’s…
TELEGRAPH – ★★★★
CLAIRE ALLFREE: Who are you? is a question repeatedly asked in this radical update of Alice in Wonderland, conceived by Rufus Norris, Blur’s Damon Albarn, who wrote the score, and playwright Moira Buffini…
THE STAGE – ★★
MARK SHENTON: I previously reviewed Wonder.land during its initial summer run as part of the Manchester International Festival, and gave it the benefit of some doubts, writing then, “There are still…
THE ARTS DESK – ★★★
ALEKS SIERZ: Sing, baby, sing: Lois Chimimba in ‘wonder.land’ Widely hyped as “an Alice for the online generation”, and “a coming-of-age adventure that explores the blurred boundaries between our…
LONDONTHEATRE.CO.UK – ★★
MARK SHENTON: In the theatre, as in life, the higher you aim, the further you have to fall. So on the one hand, I’d like to applaud the ambitiousness of the National with wonder.land, a new musical co-created by its pop star…
LONDONTHEATRE1 – ★★★
CHRIS OMAWENG: Just the one shade of grey covers the stage when projections of computer animations aren’t being shown in wonder.land (pronounced, ‘wonder-dot-land’), playing at the National Theatre 150…

NEWS
VOGUE: Kendall Jenner Is in wonder.land
The pyrotechnics of Lewis Carroll’s imagination thrive on the London stage in wonder.land, a new, hypermodernized tale of Alice and her follies. Kendall Jenner-with some fantastical…
DAILY MAIL: Damon Albarn’s musical of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
It’s the National Theatre’s big gamble for Christmas – Damon Albarn’s VERY modern musical take on the Lewis Carroll classic where Alice is an avatar and wonder.land is a videogame When…
THE STAGE: Rising above the noise of internet commentary
The internet is a noisy place. There are always lots of voices, shouting to be heard. One of the reasons I put forward for the long-term survival of formal criticism is the authority it…
FT: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ gets curiouser and curiouser
It’s a curious thing, our love for Alice in Wonderland. One hundred and fifty years since its publication, Lewis Carroll’s creation is more visible than ever on our screens and stages…
YAHOO: Damon Albarn musical whisks ‘Alice’ into the virtual world
A troubled teenage girl who seeks refuge in a fantastical online world is the star of a new musical co-written by Blur frontman Damon Albarn to mark the 150th anniversary of “Alice in…
BBC: Damon Albarn: I never called Adele insecure, we had a cup of tea
Damon Albarn has responded to rumours he fell out with Adele when they tried to work together on music for her new album. He says the reports were concocted from someone overhearing a…
OFFICIAL LONDON THEATRE: Carly Bawden leads NT’s wonder.land
Carly Bawden will play Alice in Moira Buffini and Damon Albarn’s new Lewis Carroll-inspired musical wonder.land when it opens at the National Theatre next month. The McQueen star will take…
FEATURES
TIME OUT: Damon Albarn and Rufus Norris: down the wwwabbit hole
‘I was number five on Twitter yesterday,’ says Damon Albarn, shaking his head. ‘I mean, how pathetic is that?’ We’re in the office of Rufus Norris, artistic director of the National…
OFFICIAL LONDON THEATRE: In pictures: Designing wonder.land
What a brief for a designer; put your own spin on a new interpretation of one of most fantastical of worlds ever created, Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. This was the treat for set designer…
THE INDEPENDENT: Traditional Christmas pantomimes are getting a new look this year
At no other time of the year are family-friendly shows more welcome than at Christmas. Yet it’s also often a time of boringly traditional, bankable fare. Panto reigns and theatre can tend…
DIGITAL ARTS ONLINE: These otherworldly Alice-themed interactive installations accompany DAmon Albarn’s wonder.land musical
Next Page ” Step 1 Play Nicely has created a free exhibition of otherworldly digital experiences to accompany the upcoming musical wonder.land at the National Theatre – which features…
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