Inspired by the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, which Lewis Carroll called Through the Looking Glass, this piece for young audiences is equally aimed at adults, who can readily grasp the outlandish allusions and relish the subversive characterisations.
Here, everything behind the mirror is indeed reversed, distorted or altered, notably conventional moral values. In this sarcastic, trance-like setting, nothing happens normally, nor does it correspond to expectations of a magical and enchanting world. A far cry from Walt Disney’s vision and, by the same token, Achter de Spiegel is much closer to that of children themselves, who, at once mischievous and cynical, wouldn’t think twice about being cruel or to play the worst jokes imaginable. The seven dancers take turns to play the character of Alice; this instantly implies a gender confusion, a state which Smits accentuates with insolence and exultation. By drowning the stage in punk music and ruining Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the background music contributes to disrupting norms and rules of conduct, whereby children are supposed to be picture perfect. Here, psychoanalytical analyses take pride of place, via interpretations that reflect Lewis Carroll’s funny and disturbing universe particularly well.