My first venture into the mind of Clyde Simon was attending “Lobster Alice” by Kira Obolensky at convergence-continuum (con-con) at the enchanting Liminis theatre. Simon (Director) explains that in fact, in 1946, the surrealist artist Salvador Dali went to Hollywood and spent time at the Walt Disney Studios. He had been commissioned to create a short animated film – a ballet based on the then-popular song “Destino” or “You Tempt Me.” He spent most of his time with an animator who was part of the “Alice In Wonderland” project. Obolensky creates a fictional speculation on the happenings during his time at Disney. That speculation involves Alice Horowitz, coffee-bearing secretary, who wants life to be interesting, and John Finch, an animator at work on Disney's “Alice in Wonderland,” who wants Alice. Then the great and outrageous Salvador Dali arrives at the studio to work on a short animated film. Dali scandalizes the conservative Finch; Alice, coffee-bearing secretary, becomes Alice, girl down the rabbit hole; and Finch and Alice both experience the very surreal whimsies of the human heart.
When I think about Alice Horowitz (Sarah Maria Hess) and John Finch (Tim Coles), it reminds me of Blondie and Dagwood, except that Blondie is a Stepford wife on adderall and Dagwood is as tight as a frog’s ass underwater. Throw in Dali (Grey Cross), who is his own drug, and a horny caterpillar (Beau Reinker) with a talent for smoke rings, and this has the makings of a tea party for the crazges (crazy and ages, see what I did there?).
Hess embodies Alice with stylized charm and gate. Her deft comedic skills are on full display, as she morphs into a woman who just doesn’t put her toe in the water but, eventually, her whole body. The result is a sharp, funny, and fully surreal trip down the rabbit hole and back. And what a brilliantly conceived rabbit hole it is! I can’t tell you or it would ruin the surprise.
Coles brings great angst and bumble-headedness to Finch, the lovelorn animator. As he is portrayed, my guess is the only action he gets is on the pages of his flip board animations. Coles presents an excellent arc of character, slowly dissolving layers, literally, right in front of us, until every repressed protective layer subsides and we are left with pure honest emotion. When these two reenact their first day, it is a scream to behold.
Bursting into the story with a flourish and dropping scarves to mark his territory is Grey Cross as Dali. Here is someone that would never get turned away from Studio 54. Cross knocks it out of the wonderland, delivering a hilarious raucous ride. He is the fecal Copernicus, judging everyone by how they must poop. Every time Cross enters, the stage becomes a hotplate of delight.
Rounding out the deftly-cast show is Beau Reinker, the workhorse of the production, portraying ex boyfriend Thorton, the Caterpillar, and quite literally “everyone else”. Adding to those skills, he also creates original music and accompaniment for “Dear Alice,” composed along with Bobby Coyne. But his highlight is the Caterpillar, donning a green skin tight suit that would make any speed skater jealous. Reinker makes the most of the seductive Lepidoptera, and creates cackles even when whimsically making scene changes.
Basically, this cast rocked. The technical crew should be applauded as well: Creative lighting design (Lisa Wiley) and Set/Sound design (Clyde Simon). Mucho meows to costumer sade wolfkitten. Video design (Tom Kondilas) was terrific and led us into underbelly of the rabbit hole with delight.
I am so happy I finally got my butt to con-con, but I am left with two burning desires. One, to go on a Martini Happy Hour tour headed by Dali. And the second, to have my life underscored.
Kevin Joseph Kelly
March 14 - April 5
$10-$15 General Admission
Order Tickets Online
2438 Scranton Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113