I Heart Alice Heart I, directed by Amy Conroy (HotForTheatre)
@ Project Arts Centre Oct 4th-9th 2011 (Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre)
Also at Draíocht Studio, Blanchardstown Centre Oct 10-12th and Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire Oct 14th & 15th.
I Heart Alice Heart I is about love. Alice Kinsella loves Alice Slattery. The play charts the quotidian tides of their beautifully ordinary relationship. Like any partnership, theirs is made up of little details: tiny gestures, observations, marks of affection and appreciation. They have learned each other’s customs, preferences, idiosyncrasies, and they delight in them. They remark on each other’s habits, peeves, and vocabulary.
In case you had forgotten, it reminds you how so many tiny mundane things interlock to build the people you love; it reminds you how love elevates the everyday, infusing everything with significance. Only love, and a sense of mortality, which is really just love of life, can do this. When illness threatens to separate Alice and Alice, they have to learn all over again how to appreciate the preciousness of every day. Bound up in love, of course, is fear: fear of losing everything that has unconsciously been built between you. Everything you take for granted is so fragile.
The history of their relationship is told through reminiscences. Amy Conroy and Clare Barrett act and interact with positively uncanny naturalism. (If you caught Conroy’s incredible performance in Eternal Rising of the Sun over ABSOLUT Fringe, you are still not prepared for how good she is in this.) The writing is not only flowing, it’s beautiful. The multiple dimensions of adult relationships are explored with intelligence and poetry: not only the purity of love at its simplest, but also loyalty; guilt over those loved before; gratitude for love received – love unearned, perhaps; and the residue of Catholic guilt, staining love with shame.
Most of all, the play is full of humour. A gorgeous, warm, humane kind of humour, the sort that doesn’t just make you laugh but makes you happy, turning a switch on inside you so you feel your whole ribcage light up like a Christmas tree.