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Saving Wonderland

Streamed through the Toronto Fringe Next Stage Festival


Joe Szekeres

A delightfully interactive storytelling game for the family which illuminates great fun in the famous ‘Alice and Wonderland’ series

When I read the email that was sent to me about ‘Saving Wonderland’ and audience interaction through the computer, I will be honest and say that I did groan.

I just wanted to watch and to comment on what I was seeing for future audience members.
I was wrong on that account as part of the fun in ‘Saving Wonderland’ stems from getting involved in the game.

I was a kid again.

And I was on my own.

I can only imagine the fun (and possible noise level) if you have young children playing and debating loudly which choice to make.

Samples and practices of the types of questions that would be used were given performance the production began. Good idea for this especially if you have young children who would like to practice first. At the end, we are emailed a notice outlining the rundown of the performance that we attended.

There’s no need to be concerned if you don’t know the story or remember Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ tale. The script written by David Andrew Laws, Kevin Hammonds, Attilio Rigotti and Jacob Thompson is tight with subtle comic nuances. I have a basic knowledge of the Alice story and I was fine in following this interactive plot. If anything, watching this ‘delightful distraction from our continued world of pandemic’ might make you want to re-read the tale or read it for the first time. I studied it during my undergraduate years and plan to look at it again.

From the release: “Wonderland is in trouble and it’s up to the entire audience to save it! Powered by Gamiotics (the future of interactive entertainment), join together with your fellow audience members to play as Alice in this fantastical re-thinking of the popular classic. Harnessing the power of your phone, you'll interact with beloved characters, work together to solve mind-bending puzzles, and search for missing gears from the White Rabbit’s watch to save Wonderland!” I don’t want to give away the plot here as that’s all part of the fun. Those moments where the action stopped so the audience could participate interactively gave me a quick breather before I continued with the story.

If live theatre must pivot online during this pandemic, then Gamiotics is doing its best to take audiences to various locales in another medium. Orsoloya Szánthó and Kaila Hill’s strong visual design of ‘Wonderland’ helped to create magical settings in my mind. Ross Petty for the last two years has relied on the metaverse to create sometimes hilarious and whacky situations and characters (peppered with a pinch of adult humour) and I joyfully went along for the ride.
I did the same thing here with ‘Saving Wonderland’ and enjoyed myself.

Thank you to director Attilio Rigotti for never allowing the fun to venture over the top into madcap craziness and zaniness.

The eight-person cast appears to be in a rollicking jovial mood, and this is important as it kept the plot momentum clipping along at a good pace. What worked effectively for me was seeing how none of the actors upstaged each other and thank goodness for that. I hesitate to acknowledge individual actors in this show because they worked together to tell a story, and that’s what I expected them to do.

And they did.

Final Comments: Numerous possibilities lead to multiple potential endings, and every screening of ‘Saving Wonderland’ is different as your choices determine what happens live and in real time. In the email that I was sent, we were encouraged to watch again as the events would unfold differently.

This ‘Saving Wonderland’ is recreational interactive escapism for 75 minutes. Good clean fun for the family to participate.

Give it a look and go back again if you can to see other possible endings.

SAVING WONDERLAND presented by David Carpenter/ Gamiotics Studios
Director: Attilio Rigotti
Written by David Andrew Law, Kevin Hammonds, Attilio Rigotti and Jacob Thompson
Story Editor: Caroline Prugh
Production Manager: Sarah Reynolds
Visual Design and Editing: Orsolya Szánthó
Additional Visual Design: Kaila Hill
Sound Design and Editing: Ryan Milligan
Original Music: Ben Boecker

Actors: Lynn Craig, Michael Indeglio, Pooya Mohseni, Michael Pilato, David Andrew Laws, Kim Morgan Dean, and Jacob Thompson

Running Time: approximately 75 minutes

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