The less said about Kara Lee Corthron’s AliceGraceAnon, the better. Still, one must both warn and lament. First: stay away from the Irondale Center this week, unless you have an unusually high tolerance for first-draft thinking and grade-school arts-and-crafts. Even if you do—you go to fourth-grade science fairs for the aesthetic kick—spare yourself the discomfort of seeing eager actors trying to unstick themselves from Corthron’s stringy, taffylike text. And thus the lament: Cry woe, woe for performers so thoroughly betrayed, for effort spent to such empty effect.
Corthron has followed a single idea down an unproductive rabbit hole, imagining an encounter between Lewis Carroll’s titular Alice (Teresa Avia Lim), the Mad Hatter–obsessed musician Grace Slick (non-rocker Carolyn Baeumler) and the anonymous heroine (Christina Pumariega) of the putative drug-memoir Go Ask Alice. Dramaturgy-by-collision can bear fruit, but this slumber party in limbo produces only “How do we get home?” complaints and offers to braid one another’s hair. She hammers a few similarities into the three stories: a druggy haze pervades, as does manipulation—bandmate and lover Paul Kantner (Matt Dellapina) wants credit for Slick’s success; the other two characters resent their authors. But Corthron pursues the unpursue-able, and her proposal (three sort-of Alices!) leads nowhere. A craft-paper Wonderland serves as preshow installation; director Kara-Lynn Vaeni runs the actors all over designer Nick Francone’s ugly ’60s tribute to juddery platforms; the band gets our blood moving by sheer dint of percussion and noise. But the more they try, the more desperate things become: We watch everyone digging and digging, but you cannot dig your way to the bottom of a hole.—Helen Shaw