Alice in Fearland
Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade 2022

Writer: Eva Mahkovic
Director: Aleksandar Popovski
Scenography: Numen + Vanja Magic

Inflatable structures are indispensable when attempting at grandeur with limited means. The maximalist concept for Alice in Fearland makes conscious use of the innate voluminosity and adaptability of a simple blown-up fabric.
Our main spatial idea was to create a cartoonish, over-the-top, hallucinatory landscape, akin to the one immortalised in the 1951 Disney animation, aiming to invoke the delirious underworld of Alice’s troubled subconsciousness. The “illusion-bubble-that-slowly-deflates” metaphor for millennial existence is also abound and running amok.
In the unassuming opening scene, Alice and the White Rabbit sit in rocking chairs on a simple grassy backdrop, engaging in what appears to be an impromptu shrink session. But alas, the comforting green meadow will soon spring up, flipping them head first into the aquamarine-lit, subterranean valley of fears. There they are surrounded by the towering, soft, amorphous clouds of human inner experience, populated by curious characters that sing, bounce, hover or fly.
The phantasmagoric, Moebius-like set design stands in playful opposition to Eva Mahkovic’s dramatisation of Carroll’s novel, which chose to focus on the more mundane themes of modern neuroses and phobias. This dreamy wasteland, occasionally roused by the swaying and morphing of unfazed puffy shapes, is more into alien eggs and weird fungi than your everyday drudgery, especially when immersed in the psychedelic lighting of intense fuchsia and Soylent green.
But it can just as easily flip to bleak dystopian gloom when the lights are cruel and Brechtian white, turning the stage into a monochrome aftermath of a volcano irruption.
There is basically nothing else there, apart from the ever-shifting air-filled balloons, hand-painted with reckless abandon, to simulate a random, drippy pattern of an octopus skin.
The seating and mis-en-scene are solved by using cut-out pillows of compressed foam, hidden under the floating fabric, to serve as settees, beds and an occasional altar.
The main material is ripstop polyester parachute fabric in ample amounts, cut and sown to form large rocks, urban anxieties and super-sized wienerwurst.