If 2018 was the year of immersive museums and shopping, could 2019 be the year of immersive brunch theater? Cinereal Productions helps make the case for a resounding yes with a thrilling retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland called The Unbrunch.
Alice’s playground is hidden in plain sight in Chelsea, staged inside a cushy members-only clubhouse catering to New York’s creative elite (the exact name and location of which is disclosed to guests with reservations). The White Rabbit, decked out in all white and holding a vintage pocket watch, will meet you at the entrance to guide you through the rabbit hole, before leaving you to your own devices. (In this adaptation, you’re climbing up instead of descending down.)
Once inside, this charming experience immediately immerses you in topsy-turvy performances and settings you can explore at your own pace. Plush Victorian seating and playful lighting fixtures act as your introduction; another room is decorated in dramatic reds and blacks that perfectly match a classic deck of cards; and a space catering to your inner club kid—psychedelic shades, paintings of modern rebels like Lohan and Winehouse, a sound system all about the bass—has you feeling like you drank some of Alice’s potion. Meanwhile, its inhabitants—the characters you’ve come to know and love—are dapperly dressed and look pretty familiar if you’ve dabbled in New York’s immersive theater scene. (I personally recognized a few faces from such McKittrick experiences as The Lost Supper and Sleep No More.)
The deeper you get into The Unbrunch, the more you realize that it’s not the Carroll tale you read in your youth. The Mad Hatter gets tipsy off “Earl Grey” shots before drunkenly singing a tune. Alice hazily raves with the March Hare and the well-suited Dormouse. The Cheshire Cat guides one-on-one meditation sessions if you’re lucky enough to grab his attention. Despite the production’s updates for the 21-plus crowd, Carroll’s original vision stays true to form. You find yourself rooting for Tweedledee and Tweedledum to tell the Queen of Hearts a good enough tale to avoid beheading, and you sincerely hope that our young heroine steers clear of the vicious Bandersnatch.
We suppose you ought to eat or drink something while you’re in Wonderland, but what? How about a colorful buffet and vivid-hued sippers to go with it! (Don’t worry, none of the nibbles here will turn you 10 feet tall.) Spread throughout the townhouse are bite-size brunch items both savory and sweet: cucumber sandwiches, BLT scones, leek quiches, cheeses, golden beignets dipped in icing, and tartlets filled with marzipan and jam. Accompanying the playful fare are flutes of Technicolor Prosecco and neon vodka cocktails made to shrink your inhibitions and grow your inquisitive nature. In this fanciful realm, you pay for your drinks with miniature golden hearts inside a miniature jar. Curiouser and curiouser, indeed.
Why You Should Go: This brunch gets more and more compelling the deeper you go down the rabbit hole.
Undisclosed location in Chelsea
Saturdays through January 19