“AliceGraceAnon” Combines Three Surreal Stories

By Alyssa Dvorak

Carolyn Baeumler, Teresa Avia Lim, and Christina Pumariega. Photo by Jim Baldassare, via irondale.org.

The lights flash, the music pounds, and the audience is bombarded with a downpour of shredded paper as the first act of “AliceGraceAnon,” the psychedelic new play written by Kara Lee Corthron, comes to an end. After the audience has spent thirty minutes watching the parallel lives of the three lead characters, there is an intense collision of their three worlds.

Alice of “Alice in Wonderland,” Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, and the Anonymous author of “Go Ask Alice” are cast into the same realm of nothingness in order to realize the full effect their stories have had on one another.

Alice’s story, created by Charles Dodson (aka Lewis Carroll) in the 1800s, provided the inspiration for Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 hit “White Rabbit.” This song exhibits the general themes of Jefferson Airplane’s musical repertoire—sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

This damaging lifestyle became idyllic for much of America’s youth in the 1960s, motivating Beatrice Sparks to write a fictional teenage-memoir depicting the world of an anonymous drug addicted teenager. Corthron wanted to create a story that would allow these three women to meet face to face.

New Georges, a non-profit Manhattan-based theater company, commissioned “AliceGraceAnon” as part of their 2010 “Germ Project.” The production did an exceptional job of utilizing every nook and cranny available in Brooklyn’s Irondale center.

As audiences enter, they are immediately drawn into the story—animated cast members lead them through an interactive experience that introduces the three stories. This allows audience members to become intrigued by the characters and captivated by the stories before the first line of dialogue is even spoken.

The set, with a childish feel created by the use of construction paper, was put to full use by the cast members. Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni, the actors move seamlessly amongst the three stories, allowing the first half to run at a fast and intriguing pace. The audience doesn’t know where to expect the next part of the story to occur on the set. Unfortunately, following a great intermission musical performance by Joe Boover and the TUNED-IN, the show loses its swift pace and stimulating nature.

The elimination of color as we enter a white world of nothing mirrors a shift in the story. The first act, filled with vibrant performances and exciting stories, shifts to a lackluster second half. Although Alice (Teresa Avia Lim), Grace (Carolyn Baeumler), and Anonymous (Christina Pumariega) maintain their proficient acting, the story doesn’t keep the audience quite as captivated.

Ultimately, it is a show worth seeing for the brilliantly directed first half and the stunning performance of the three lead characters. Fall down the rabbit hole at the Irondale Center, and you will not be disappointed.

“AliceGraceAnon” is playing at the Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford St., Brooklyn, through November 9th. For tickets and more information, see irondale.org/NewGeorges.

Alyssa is a contributing writer. Email her at theater@nyunews.com.

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