I Do! I Do! at the Riverside Studios
I Do! I Do! is a two-hander musical written by the same team that created The Fantasticks and is currently being presented at the Riverside Studios by Arts House International. This incarnation, which debuted in America in 1966, sees Tim Pottery-Jones and Lara Pilcher filling the bill. The story follows a couple through fifty years of marriage, checking in on everything from pregnancy to disillusionment. While these themes are in some sense timeless, this show, perhaps, isn’t.
I Do! I Do! lives in an inventive box-set, a sketch of a life-size dollhouse bedroom framed out in timber. The use of space is fun and effective, drawing us into the worlds of Agnes and Michael.
With costume changes (occasionally lengthy and awkward), live folly, and the band all on-stage in full view, no punches are pulled. The songs are skillfully rendered and the action is fairly believable. So what is it that leaves us feeling unexcited? Perhaps it’s the play’s currency, or lack thereof.
Despite fine acting from the cast, the show fails to resonate with us for reasons Pottery-Jones and Pilcher have nothing to do with – they’re up against the solid wall of a family drama written half a century ago. Pottery-Jones, of ITV’s Superstar fame, plays the likeably bumbling Michael with gusto, but it’s hard to sell going to bed for the first time together on your wedding night in 2012. Although they portray moments of tenderness well, the passion feels superficial.
Theatre as a medium is about the collusion between real life and the world that might be. There’s got to be some sort of relevance to the material, some way for audiences to recognise themselves in it. While there are moments of such recognition in I Do! I Do! the anachronism of the play and the inability or unwillingness to go quite far enough jars a little too often for us to make any real connection.