The census bureau says the world's population is expected to hit 7 billion in less than two years, a sevenfold increase in only the last two centuries. We had our first billion just shy of Abraham Lincoln's birthday; around the time of Christ, the numbers never went above about a quarter of that. (That means that for every lost soul in Jesus' day, there are 28 in September of A.D. 2009. No wonder He took an early retirement. You would, too.)
Stats like that set frumpy Lady Alice Fossmire's hair to frizzing in Drink Me, or The Strange Case of Alice Times Three, the latest piece from MOXIE Theatre. Alice, see, is a major player in Great Britain's zero-population-growth movement, and she advocates things like sperm banks and even cannibalism as solutions to the whole mess. Meanwhile, she blames men (the instigators, after all) for the crazy spikes in the numbers—so the recent unexplained disappearances of 4,000 male Londoners (mostly indigents and homeless) meets with her bemusement as a lightweight investigator is left to solve the mystery.
This is a nice show, for two reasons: Playwright Mary Fengar Gail is nearly flawless as she weaves Alice (an excellent Rhona Gold) in and out of her two realities, and the technical touches are spot-on in defining those realities. Amid the heavy Alice in Wonderland references and veiled deference to The Pink Panther's Inspector Clouseau, Gail has great tongue-in-cheek fun in postulating on a world without men, which a trio of witchy sisters (Morgan Trant, Jo Anne Glover and Melissa Fernandes) advocate at their peril. I'll not reveal where the missing guys are—suffice it to say that they're alive and well, although their shirts are short a button or two.
Gail overwrites certain passages and under-develops others, like the budding romance between Detective Fossmire—Alice's son—and psychiatrist Flora Whetstone (Stephen Elton and Kristianne Kurner); Elton tends to watch himself act, anticipating his dialogue instead of embracing the ideas behind it. And some of the British accents are uneven or miss the mark altogether. But the witches are key to illustrating Gail's sense of whimsy, and directors Delicia Turner Sonnenberg and Jennifer Thorn helm accordingly. Watch and listen as the sisters touch, embrace, titter and undulate in Jennifer Brawn Gittings' lavender get-ups. Theirs is an exceptional unit.
I have a hard time with numbers that reflect global overpopulation, and maybe that's why this show doesn't hit me full-on. There's absolutely no such thing as too many folks—75 percent of the world's population lives on less than 3 percent of the land, and if you took the world's 6.8 billion people and stood them one square foot apart, they'd fill the city of Baghdad (a paltry 250 square miles) with room left over for about half the U.S. population. But Drink Me scores a few decent points about the wholesale maldistribution of resources worldwide—and it's sensible enough to convey that eradication of an entire gender isn't close to the solution.This review is based on the matinée performance of Aug. 30. Drink Me, or The Strange Case of Alice Times Three runs through Sept. 27 at The Mandell Weiss Forum Studio, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive (corner of Revelle College Drive). $15. 858-598-7620, www.moxietheatre.com. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Would you like your online comment to be considered for publication in our print edition? Include your true full name and neighborhood of residence.