The Abbey follows Alice down the rabbit hole


SMALL PRINTS:ITS BEEN OVER twenty years since the Abbey has produced a musical, but next year, one of the most ambitious and invigorating musical projects around will break that dry spell.

Alice In Funderland, by thisispopbaby, has just been announced for the Abbey in 2012. It’s among forthcoming highlights, which include a new play by Marina Carr – based on the life and death of Chekhov, 16 Possible Glimpseswill run during this year’s Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

Thisispopbaby, meanwhile, is a force of nature run by Philip McMahon and Jennifer Jennings, combining playwriting, performance, production, festivals and a tent at Electric Picnic to great effect. Their relationship with the Abbey has strengthened in the past few years and McMahon was a writer in association with the Abbey for 2009/10.

In 2006, McMahon’s Danny and Chantelle (Still Here)won the Spirit of the Fringe award at the Dublin Fringe festival. Love 2.0was commissioned by the Abbey as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2008 and involved two short plays: Two Housesby Belinda McKeon and Investment Potentialby McMahon. Last year, thisispopbaby were back in the Abbey for five instalments of a late-night performance art nightclubbing experience called Werk, a dramatic departure for the theatre, but one that sold out five times in a row.

Alice In Funderlandis a different beast to thisispopbabys already innovative portfolio. Presented in a work-in-progress style at the Project Arts Centre earlier this year, it tells the story of a young woman making her way home on a night out in Dublin, encountering various characters inspired by Alice In Wonderland.

Directed by Wayne Jordan (as is Carr’s play) and with music by Raymond Scannell, it was immediately lauded as one of the most promising productions in recent years, even though the performances were effectively just read-throughs.