I ❤ Alice ❤ I | Theatre Review
The Lyric Theatre • 17 November ’15
I ❤ Alice ❤ I is not just simply a play, it is a true love story so authentically beautiful in its retelling and genuine in its delivery, it felt a privilege just to listen in. It is also a resounding message of love that breaks down the barriers of taboo and the unspoken subjects of lesbianism and the sexuality of the elderly to deliver a profound statement on the ultimate importance of being true to yourself. The play, performed by HotForTheatre, consists of a single act with no interval, involving the audience entirely as it focuses on the lives and love of the two Alice’s played by the fantastic Clare Barret and Amy Conroy. HotForTheatre Company states that they aim to “provoke, move and delight in equal measures” and through this particular play, they achieved that in spades as we laughed along with the Alices, struggled in their hardship and ultimately shared in their love. The play did not need a lavish, ever changing set nor did it need a fast paced plot full of action. This was a story driven entirely by dialogue and felt entirely by the heart. It was, at its core two chairs, a table and an attentive audience that hung on every word of our two main protagonists.
It is not surprising that the play, written by main actor Amy Conroy, won the Fishamble Award for New Writing after its Dublin Fringe Festival premiere in 2010. As well as the brilliant writing, the acting was a true testament and we never believed for a single second that these characters were not real people with a real story to tell. When both actors took off their wigs at the end of the play, it was as if a spell was broken. Purposely performed as a fictional story under the guise of a documentary-like play, we almost felt cheated having fallen for these characters to the harsh reality that this was in fact just a theatre and a play.
Both characters who were ridiculously likeable and yet still flawed and relatable also had the audience laughing at almost every minute with their comedic timing and hilarious anecdotes involving one Alice’s annoyance at too many pillows on the sofa to the others bad driving that had the audience in stitches due to their natural chemistry and excellent delivery. This laughter along with the genuine sadness felt by the audience when describing the lows of their relationship set up a perfect balance between drama and comedy.
Reminiscent of a kitchen sink drama, we were allowed to witness first-hand both women in their mid-60’s speaking openly of their sexuality and the struggle and pride of living as an openly gay couple. This felt like an unspoken taboo that was finally being spoken about and truly celebrated. Also striking an interesting balance between naturalistic and immersive theatre, HotForTheatre chose to present their play in a truly exciting way. We were let wholly into the two Alices’ lives and were treated as true friends. The audience were addressed directly and at one point, cake cut up by Alice in their kitchen was passed around the audience along with a picture from their childhood. This is where the fourth wall of theatre became demolished and it was no longer the stage, the audience and the actors – it was a genuine friendship and bond created by a shared story and a shared belief that love is not a choice or a single gender, it is simply love.
The last words of the play “We will be seen… they will be seen” left a poignant message that sexuality will not and should not be hidden. It should be celebrated and held up with pride and this play celebrates love in a truly genuine and heart-warming way. A very special and poignant story that will make you never want to leave the world in which it is set.