A LOVE story between two women, both sharing the same Christian name, is the backdrop for I [heart] Alice [heart] I, which will be performed at Glór on Thursday, June 20.
Amy Conroy is the writer of the piece, while she is also one of the performers and the director.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, she says the play starts off when two women are seen stealing a kiss at a Tesco store in Dublin. She adds there are two dimensions to it.
“I suppose the play does two things, stylistically and in its structure, it’s a poke at documentary theatre and its substance then is a love story. It’s a very mundane, ordinary love story, two very ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and it highlights the smallness of their relationships. It’s doing something very big in a small way and I suppose that’s why it resonates with people.
“It’s so deeply human and thankfully anyone who comes to it can see themselves or people that they know in it. I’m really pleased about that. In essence, it’s quite a specific story, it’s a story about two older women in a relationship and it’s done in such a gentle way that we have men and women from the age of 15 up to 85 that come up and see themselves reflected in the piece. It was a challenge to do that and I’m glad that we kind of got it right.”
The play has been on the go since 2010. She says the interaction with the audience is very important to it.
“It seems to be one of these shows that people take very personally and it becomes the audience’s story, which is a lovely experience for us as performers.
“I always say there are three actors in it, there is Alice and Alice and the audience and we’re all kind of part of it together. We all go on the journey together.
“We’ve travelled the world with this piece. We started in the Dublin Fringe Festival, moved on to the Dublin Theatre Festival, played in the Abbey, we went to New York for a month, Iceland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and this is our first time bringing it around Ireland. I’m really, really looking forward to getting out to the smaller towns and seeing what the reaction is like.”
While love stories mixed with humour are a large part of popular culture, there are very few where the main characters are of the same sex.
While this being the case in I [heart] Alice [heart] I might seem significant, she says the humanity of the two Alices outshines it and there has never been any issue with homophobia.
“I’m delighted to say it’s never been a problem, I suppose because it’s not really the main point of the play. It just happens to be two women, that’s just part of it. I’d say people are surprised themselves coming along and not even batting an eyelid. They might have thought they would but they barely even notice, which is great.”
She says she finds writing rather difficult and I [heart] Alice [heart] I was the result of numerous rewrites. “Any writing is difficult, if I’m honest. It’s always hard, it doesn’t come easy. There were loads of hours of going over it but I really believe that if you stick with the integrity of the characters you’re developing, you can’t really go too far wrong. I always treat them like they’re real people.”
The New York Times gave the play a warm review last year, describing it as “a humorous, affecting and quietly empowering work that fully convinces in its artful facsimile of real people sharing experiences both ordinary and precious”.