Alice in chains

Anyone who caught Mexican director Eduardo Ruiz Savinon's previous collaborations with Teatro Dallas knows that this man loves to walk on the dark side, stopping here and there to frolic in the downright macabre: Profane Games and The Tree were marvelously atmospheric Teatro successes that dealt, respectively, with children who keep their dead parents' corpses around for companionship and a cruel psychological campaign of supernatural "visions" waged by a servant against her mistress.

Teatro artistic director Cora Cardona has enticed Savinon to return for the final entry in her company's 6th Annual International Theater Festival. He comes armed with a stage adaptation by Manuel Nunez Nava of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as well as elements from his other Alice adventure Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the death of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Carroll), who has been hailed and denounced by critics and historians as a political anarchist, a pedophile (he did photograph some of his young female charges in the nude, although their mothers were usually present for the shoot), an occultic numerologist, a scalding satirist of Victorian mores, and Jack the Ripper himself, disseminating clues to his identity through the riddles of Alice's romps.

Expect more Jack the Ripper-occultic numerologist style to shine through in Alicia Subterranea, Savinón's staging of Nava's trippy Carroll retelling. Beginning with the elaborate and hallucinatory light effects for which the director is famous in his hometown of Mexico City, Savinon turns Alice's adventures underground into a mad scramble across the ocean floor after her sea voyage wrecks and discharges her. Savinon's sense of humor is strong, but it's usually pretty perverse: Expect him to send audiences into circular motions of doubt, questioning the order and the reality of the events onstage. Lewis Carroll, the shy, reclusive Anglo-Saxon, was about as far from a multiculturalist as you'll find in world literature, but we suspect he'd recognize the universal prankster behind Eduardo Ruiz Savinon's Latino language.

--Jimmy Fowler

Alicia Subterranea will be performed at 8:15 p.m. February 19 and 20 at North Dallas High School, 3120 Haskell Ave. Tickets are $15. Call (214) 303-1833.

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Jimmy Fowler