I (Heart) Alice (Heart) I – Auckland Arts Festival

Two women nervously enter and stand on opposite ends of the stage ushered in by Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want To Be With You.  They appear nervous but determinedly tell themselves to “have fun, enjoy yourself, don’t panic”.

Meet Alice Kinsella and Alice Slattery.  One fateful day they spontaneously steal a kiss in the condiment aisle in Tesco.  Set in Dublin circa 1960s, an encounter like this between two women was largely unheard of.  Alice and Alice were flustered.  Did anyone see?  How will people react?

Turns out someone did see.  This impulsive act is witnessed by a theatre director who consequently persuades and eventually convinces them to share their love story to the world.  This is where we, the audience, come in.

I ♥ Alice ♥ I by Dublin’s HotForTheatre is a candid and intimate snapshot into their decades-long relationship and is documentary theatre at its best.  The two Alice’s take it in turns walking down memory lane; talking about themselves and each other, delivering anecdotes and confessions, reliving fond memories and painful ones.

The storytelling in this low-key play is absolutely flawless.  The narrative is so well crafted and flows so naturally that it really doesn’t feel like one.  The two Alice’s are played exceptionally by Amy Conroy (who is also the writer and director) and Claire Barrett; the way in which they share, joke and reminisce over the development of their relationship feels very genuine and unscripted.

I ♥ Alice ♥ I has a very unassuming facade but make no mistake: it is a theatrical masterpiece.  It is a love story and undoubtedly a social commentary about homosexuality too but it also talks about life, loss, travel and infidelity – something we can all identify with on some level.

The Loft at Q is definitely the perfect venue for this intimate two hander; I left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.  Whether you are a hopeless romantic or a cynic when it comes to love, the heartwarming and inspiring message you are left with at the end will have some resonating effect on you.  Put simply: do not miss this wonderfully charming and beautifully moving piece of theatre.

See it at Q Theatre until 11 March as part of Auckland Arts Festival.