March 3, 2014 6:41 pm

I Do, Hilton Docklands Hotel, London – review

Set in a working hotel, this Dante or Die show immerses the audience in the build-up to a wedding
From left, Sarah Hunt, Zoe Hunter and Rachel Drazek in Dante or Die's 'I Do'©Ludovic Des Cognets

From left, Sarah Hunt, Zoe Hunter and Rachel Drazek in Dante or Die's 'I Do'

The combination of nerves, plentiful alcohol and uncomfortable shoes makes weddings potential emotional minefields: perfect territory for dramatists. I Do plunges in, with a drama set just 10 minutes before the ceremony, when feelings are coming to the boil nicely. But what makes this show (by Dante or Die, who first staged it last summer as part of the Almeida Festival) so enjoyable is that it delivers the story as an immersive piece, performed in a real, working hotel. Audiences are divided into six groups and infiltrate the action, witnessing the same few minutes from six different angles in six different hotel rooms. It doesn’t matter in which order you see the scenes: each works as part of the jigsaw puzzle of what is happening and you piece them together for yourself. It’s like real life, with the added fillip that you get to see a moment from several different perspectives (sometimes subtly altering your reading) and you are actively encouraged to root about in drawers for clues and insights.

So, we visit the bridal suite (where a quick rummage through the bride’s handbag reveals that her reading includes Bitter Honeymoon) and the rooms of the groom, best man, mother of the bride, grandparents and bridesmaids. The guest in each room is centre stage, but other characters burst in and out, their behaviour often throwing further light on a scene we have witnessed in another room.

The story itself isn’t particularly surprising and doesn’t travel very far. Both bride (Rachel Drazek) and groom (Tas Emiabata) appear to be having cold feet, while around them their friends and relatives are all struggling with their own emotional crises. But the pleasure lies in the intricate planning of both Chloe Moss’s text and Daphna Attias’s production, and in the buzz of being close to characters at extraordinarily intimate moments. The attention to detail makes the show: we watch one character pinch a dab of someone else’s perfume, another read the results of a pregnancy test.

The performances are beautifully pitched, so that it is easy to believe that you are indeed a fly on the wall. So we laugh at best man Terry O’Donovan’s self-conscious rehearsal of his speech, and feel for Anna Carteret and Christopher Dunham, grandparents of the bride, as they struggle to dress for the ceremony. Through accumulation, the show gently offers multiple perspectives on the nature of love and commitment: in short, the weight of the words “I do.”


danteordie.com

almeida.co.uk

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