Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

I Do! I Do!, Upstairs at The Gatehouse – assessment

I don’t think about myself a musical fan however, within the spirit of broadening my horizons, I popped alongside to take a look at I Do! I Do! a musical presently organising residence in Upstairs at The Gatehouse. I’m glad I did.

Primarily based on the 1951 play The Fourposter by Jan de Hartog, this two-hander was first seen on Broadway in 1966. Agnes and Michael enter their nuptial residence as newlyweds in the course of the first quantity, and from there all the efficiency (is there a greater synonym for marriage?) takes place within the bed room they occupy over the next 50 years (1890-1940) with births (for her), profession highs (for him), extramarital affair (for him), and the assorted joys and miseries of two individuals agreeing to spend their lives collectively different below one roof.

Gemma Maclean as Agnes and Ben Morris as Michael put in two charming performances stuffed with gusto (as did Henry Brennan within the shadows accompanying them), belting out nice vocals and nifty footwork within the lengthy area of Upstairs. The set design was very fairly, very Paperchase, though the general really feel was, to me, extra 1950’s than late Victorian, which is when the motion commences. The costumes had been a complicated hodgepodge, mixing Victorian bloomers with mid-century attire earlier than we hit the mid-century and once we had been positively out of the Victorian period. Maybe this was a intelligent insinuation that Victorian concepts had been doomed to canine this relationship?

I Do! I Do! doesn’t throw shade on the sanctity of marriage, or have Agnes responding to her husband’s affair by strolling out the door and having her personal, and from the sounds of it their two well-balanced youngsters (one boy, one woman, how good), develop as much as be heterosexual and of their flip get married on cue. I Do! I Do! pootles alongside, with no curveballs, no surprises, after which it ends with acceptance of, if not contentment at, the couple’s sense of a lifetime’s duties having been served. It’s bittersweet for them, because it was for many individuals. Theatre is an artwork type of many spectrums, and I’m going to it in search of various things at totally different instances.

I Do! I Do! is, apparently, hardly ever revived. Regardless of having loved it, it wasn’t onerous to know why. It feels dated. It’s dated. However that’s to be anticipated from a present primarily based on a 50’s play. Issues had been the best way they had been, and a few writers merely seize a snapshot. Although I’m nicely conscious of its issues (white, heteronormative, pre-feminist-anything), I might think about these issues within the essential sense of the phrase provided that it had been written within the final ten years. Nevertheless it’s a musical written within the 60’s primarily based on a play from the 50’s set within the Victorian/Edwardian/Georgian eras. I felt I used to be watching a relic. And there was one thing touching about understanding this was how so many men and women lived out their lives, doing what they thought was anticipated moderately than what they wished, and discovering bitternesses and contentment in it.

I wouldn’t wish to stay like Agnes, as many individuals wouldn’t, however I loved this present. Possibly I’m getting straightforward to please or simply plain lazy in my outdated age, however generally, I simply wish to go to the theatre to take a load off and escape from the godawful mess every part appears to be in proper now. Generally I’m going to the theatre to overlook how issues are, to not be reminded of how they’re. Generally, an old style out-of-date musical about marriage is simply what the physician ordered. Possibly that’s simply me.

Director: Joseph Hodges
Primarily based on: ‘The Fourposter’ by Jan de Hartog
Musical Director: Henry Brennan
Set Designer: Emily Bestow
Sound Designer: Phil Wilson
Music & lyrics: Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones
Reserving till: 16th November

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