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Manchester & London


Welcome to, where you can be exactly who you want to be

A new musical directed by Rufus Norris, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice in Wonderland, and with music by Damon Albarn and book and lyrics by Moira Buffini (Tamara Drewe, Handbagged). premiered at the Manchester International Festival before transferring to the National Theatre in 2015.

Set around the online community of, Aly, 12, loves this extraordinary virtual world. Bullied at school and unhappy at home, lets her escape from her parents, from teachers, from herself.

Online, Aly becomes Alice: brave, beautiful and in control. But some of the people she meets – the weird Dum and Dee, the creepy Cheshire Cat, the terrifying Red Queen – seem strangely familiar. As hard as Aly tries to keep them apart, real life and begin to collide in ever more curious and dangerous ways.

Creating the virtual world of entirely through projection, digital animation and filmed sequences, 59 relied on motion capture techniques to transform the actors into their videogame avatars. Taking audiences on a journey through the everyday drudgery of daily life and the multicoloured fantasy world of the internet, these projections were integral to the shows’ surreal narrative.

59 also created a companion VR piece, Fabulous.wonderland together with the National Theatre, and Play Nicely

Opened 2015

Palace Theatre, Manchester & Royal National Theatre, London

This game-ified is a visual triumph, spectacular on a giant screen at the rear of the stage, while flesh and blood characters move about in the grim foreground of meatspace, rendered in monochrome. The all-digital Cheshire Cat – flowing multicoloured whiskers, terrifying fang-like teeth, representing all that is enticing and frightening about the internet – is magnificent, a waving golden Chinese good luck cat with David Bowie eyes, one green and one purple
Lois Chimimba’s Aly uses her phone to boot up a technicolour paradise, and create a blonde, pretty avatar (her fantasy alter-ego), to escape her monochrome urban existence – conjuring a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of projected weird and wonderful creatures (chief among them a malevolently grinning Cheshire Cat, with whiskers more like alien tendrils).
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, book writer Moira Buffini sets it in the modern digital age, in which Alice is the online avatar creation of a serially bullied young schoolgirl, Aly, who creates an alternate life for herself online. It is here Rufus Norris’ production comes fully and imaginatively alive, with brilliantly vivid projections, courtesy of 59 Productions. is a spectacle to say the least. From 59 Productions, the team that brought us the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, the visual effects and projections are bold and exciting.
Over and around her drab grey bedroom Aly conjures a kaleidoscopic wonderweb world of projected computer animations, psychedelic graphics and weirdly costumed actors beetling about the stage with purposeless speed. It is Lewis Carroll out of Hieronymus Bosch, Magritte, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and the vivid CGI projections of the world of gaming.
Surreal, silly, super charged with energy:, the musical chosen to formally open this year’s Manchester International Festival, is a triumph.
Aly’s online world contrasts greatly with that of her grim reality, and this is where Rae Smith’s striking set design and 59 Productions’ lifelike projections impress, as they are not too cinematic to make you feel as if you are watching a film. Actors are seamlessly integrated, giving off the feel that this show is far more than a box of special effects.
The lighting and sound of Paule Constable and Paul Arditti create, with the projections by 59 Productions, a whirling vortex of coloured vegetation, a sci-fi paradise of exotic colour and magenta-tinged night-time.
As Albarn’s music threads its way through the action, you have rotating sets by Rae Smith that evoke the monochrome quality of urban life, computerised animations by 59 Productions that usher us into a Sergeant Pepperish world of whirling psychedelia and costumes by Katrina Lindsay of striking strangeness.


Damon Albarn

Book & Lyrics
Moira Buffini

Rufus Norris

Rae Smith

59 Productions

Paule Constable

Katrina Lindsay

Paul Arditti

Javier De Frutos

59 Team

Creative Director
Lysander Ashton

Senior Animator
Marco Sandeman
Zsolt Balogh

Technical Associate
Max Spielbichler

3D Modeller
Andrea Cavuoto

Facial Motion Capture Consultants
Spider Jar

Motion Capture Consultants
Studio Distract

(with additional support from)
Senior Assistant Designer
Akhila Krishnan

Assistant Designer
Betsy Dadd

Director of Photography
Nick Corrigan

Terry Reilly

Assistant Animator
Pratik Patel
Aaron Lampert

Junior Animator
Raphael Pimlott
Matthew Taylor