Creators: Daphna Attias, Terry O’Donovan
Writer: Chloe Moss
Director: Daphna Attias
Reviewer: Nichola Daunton
First performed as part of the Almeida Festival in August 2013, Dante or Die’s site-specific work I Do takes its audience on a journey through six hotel rooms on the morning of a wedding. Divided into six groups with the help of coloured paper roses, the audience are guided through the rooms in different orders, seeing snapshots of the drama before it reverses and begins again.
Meticulously put together by co-creators Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan, who also takes on the rôle of the manic and charming best man, each scene stands up on its own merit but is woven together with the others by recurring themes and characters, notably Anna Richmond as the trainee cleaner. Ducking in and out of each room to hand out her hotel questionnaires, she never speaks and yet she is the consciousness of the piece, pointing characters in certain directions or helping them when they are distressed. Her reversal down the corridor at the end of each scene also helps the audience understand the rôle of time in the piece. In fact the corridors play are as big a part in I Do as the rooms themselves with bridesmaids dashing down them, people lurking in them, and shouted instructions echoing through them.
The heightened emotional state that a wedding brings on is perfect for a piece like this, and the rooms themselves, mostly messy, chaotic, and strewn with champagne and confetti, reflect the jagged emotions of their inhabitants. With such emotional rawness at every turn, it is hard for the audience not to feel like voyeurs, intruders on someone else’s special day, but this voyeuristic feeling is all part of the fun, and snooping is encouraged, with one audience member even rummaging through the bins.
The ability of the cast to work around and with the audience is superb, and the space has clearly been mapped well, both emotionally and physically, by all involved thanks to Daphna Attias’ assured direction. The inter-generational relationships of the wedding party are also very convincing, and one scene in particular, where a daughter ignores her elderly father is especially revealing.
Stand out performances come courtesy of Christopher Dunham as the Grandfather of the Bride and Terry O’Donovan as the Best Man. Both proved capable of shifting the emotional tone of the piece in unexpected and touching ways, as did Rachel Drazek and Tas Emiabata as the bride and groom, proving, through the canny use of a couple of mobile phones, that actions speak louder than words.
Although at first a little disorientating, I Do moves up and down the emotional scale in subtle and profound ways, expertly weaving together the emotional histories of a group of people who have been forced together by someone else’s love.
Runs until 9th March