Clonmel Champion & HotForTheatre Fan Aisling Kilroy
I ♥ Alice ♥ I is 75 minutes of captivating, stimulating, moving and funny theatre. At its core, it’s a love story. A love story between two people who have been together for almost 30 years. We learn about each of their eccentricities, their bad habits and their good habits. We learn something about their past lives and loves, some of it good, some of it not so good. We learn about their families, their friendships, their personalities and their present lives. We come to understand what it is they love about each other. We can see that theirs is a true love story, that they are each other’s best friend and lover, that they make each other laugh a lot, cry sometimes, that they are a true support to each other. And that as they face into their twilight years, there is a certain concern as to what the future holds. That I ♥ Alice ♥ I is a love story between two women, Alice Kinsella and Alice Slattery, is almost incidental.
I ♥ Alice ♥ I is a beautiful piece of theatre, written by Amy Conroy. The language is everyday, easy to understand and yet so carefully considered. The acting is also beautiful. Amy Conroy and Claire Barrett make is look so simple and easy – a credit to their talent as actors and to Amy Conroy as director. If you have even the slightest interest in theatre, you must go and see I ♥ Alice ♥ I when it comes to the White Memorial Theatre on 6,7 and 8 July next .
The play opens to a scene of two ladies-of-a-certain-age recounting all the petty annoyances and mundanities that are recognisable to people in most long term relationships, a laundry list of irritating mannerisms and preferences that, after all, are the bread and butter of knowing and loving another person intimately. The two women are the Alices, Alice Slattery and Alice Kinsella and for the next eighty or so minutes you will find yourself drawn into a world that is the shared relationship and history of two women who, after a lifetime of invisibility, have chosen to reveal themselves to the world. As the play progresses the initial inventory of personal tics gives way to reveal an honest account of real love, love that is neither convenient nor shallow but instead an entity that carries with it strength to sustain in times of crisis and confusion.
I found myself re-evaluating my own prejudices and received wisdoms throughout the performance, why did I first giggle at the notion of two old ladies who were also lesbians? I don’t believe I am homophobic but initially it was such a new or unlikely scenario. We simply do not see this represented often enough. The sexualisation of society in general, and in particular the way in which women are commodified and labelled according to desirability, has paradoxically resulted in a sterile version of sexuality, a maddeningly narrow and paltry landscape. So while this play is about a lesbian couple it is also about all kinds of invisible people, who because of gender, age or not conforming to the preferred societal aesthetic are still out there living and loving. It’s a reminder of the life-affirming nature of love written with humour and tenderness but with an underlying radical message. – Claire Zwaartman, Glengarriff, Co. Cork, June 2013
Book your tickets for the Cork Midsummer Festival here
Cahersiveen native and avid iphone listener Elaine Clifford
You fall in love with the two Alice’s immediately, you cant help it…..you are so nervous for them because they are so scared to be there. All you want to do is go onto the stage, give them a hug and hold their hands. Tell them they will be alright, they will get through this and that we will leave in the end having listened to them tell their tender and heartfelt love-story.
Being lucky enough to call her a friend and growing up along side the ever acting, ever performing talented Amy Conroy (writer/actor) but not having had the pleasure of seeing Amy or Clare Barrett perform on the “real” stage I couldn’t have chosen a better masterpiece than the Alice’s for my first experience of both these actors. Their brilliant performance as Alice Slattery and Alice Kinsella brings you on a journey of friendship and love, with laughter and sadness. You cant help but ask yourself is my relationship like theirs, a feeling of hope resonated deep in my heart because what the Alices have, I want. Friendship to begin with but through sharing the itsy bitsy boring, mundane trials and tribulations of every day life this friendship becomes much more and in the end a simple kiss in the aisle of a shopping centre seals the fate of these two beautiful and courageous women.
Winning the 2010 Fishamble New Writing Award at the 2010 ABSOLUT Fringe Awards was no accident….Through brilliant play writing Amy Conroy allows us to be intimate with these two characters, falling under their spell because you don’t want to miss a single word of that they have to say to each other and about each other I ♥ Alice ♥ I made me laugh, made me cry but most of all made me feel warm in my heart. Doesn’t matter if you are young or old, single or married, gay or straight, if you want to see a true love story then I ♥ Alice ♥ I is a must see.
Self confessed FEEDER and top soup chef at Betelnut Café at Draíocht, Will O’Reilly, shares his thought’s on ‘Eternal Rising of the Sun’ …
Gina Devine, the outspoken, shape-throwing heroine of HotFORTheatre’s ‘Eternal Rising of the Sun’, is unhappy. Tormented by an abusive father, struggling through a teenage pregnancy and inheriting an idiotic boyfriend, Gina finds solace at the back of a local contemporary dance class. Her struggle to keep up with teacher Anton’s instructions illustrates her steely determination, a determination that has kept her afloat in a difficult life so far and she spares us nothing as she imparts her disturbing tale with humour, strength and poignancy.
I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Amy Conroy, the actor/writer behind this powerful piece of theatre, during its rehearsal stage at Draíocht, whenever she popped out to me for (a much needed, I’m guessing!) coffee. Her modesty and soft Kerry accent belied the incredibly resilient, and uniquely Dublin, character that she, alongside director Veronica Coburn, were creating on a daily basis over the summer of 2011. With my interest piqued after our conversations, I went along to one of its earliest performances at the Dublin Fringe Festival. Words failed me after the stage went dark at the end of Gina’s account and I soon realised that I wasn’t alone. A stunned audience momentarily silenced by Amy Conroy’s powerful performance and trying to process what they had all laid witness to, leapt to a rapturous ovation.
I won’t lie to you; this is an incredibly upsetting play, difficult to watch at times but impossible not to. Gina, however, is a natural born story teller and she laces her account with a wicked sense of humour and some neat dance moves to boot. There is redemption, albeit difficult to swallow and an awareness that comes to Gina through the title of this piece.
‘Eternal Rising of the Sun’ has stayed with me long after its curtain fell, and the fate of Gina (and all the ‘Gina’s out there) have niggled at the back of my head ever since. Gina’s story needs our ‘courage to be seen’ and I look forward to its return to Draíocht.
Alice Farrell HotForTheatre fan and Kildare native
We asked HotForTheatre friend and Kildare native Alice Farrell to tell us about her experience of seeing Eternal Rising of the Sun. Here’s what she had to say:
Gina Devine is a hard chaw. If you are one to cross the street on seeing tough customers dead ahead, she will have you skipping out into traffic without waiting to look both ways. But what you’ll realise within about ten minutes of getting to know her is that her circumstances and her experiences to date have created this harsh version of herself. Too much of her life has been spent hearing that she is hopeless and that she should cop on, too little spent hearing anything positive about herself at all.
We meet her at a point where the little good in her life seems cruelly outnumbered by all that’s not, but then she reveals something that might just tip the balance, if only she could get enough of a chance. Gina wants to dance. That this is an affront to most around her is just one more obstacle that she’s going to have to deal with. She’s working on her moves and trying to ignore the haters, both a combination of difficult steps.
I’m a little bit scared of Gina, but I’m impressed by her too. At different moments you will want to shout at her, run away from her, console her, shake her, reassure her and maybe even despair of her, but you’ll find it almost impossible not to care about her. Once we see past her tough nut exterior and learn more about Gina’s life, the realisation that we are all a fair bit more than the sum of our parts will nudge even the most judgemental. For anyone that has felt the sneers and the jeers and went on and did it anyway, Gina’s dancing this one for you.
Alice Farrell, April 2013.
Book your tickets to see Eternal Rising of the Sun at the Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co. Kildare on April 25th here