I Do I Don’t
Reviewed by Rhys Tarling
I Do I Don’t is a captivating and intermittently melancholic one-woman show. Written and performed by Whitney Richards and directed by Rachel Chant, it can be gathered that this semi-biographical hour errs closer to the side of biographical – the message at the end of the show displays “For my family. My way of getting you all in the same room.” Like all good works of fiction, its ruthless honesty belies a warm sense of compassion.
I Do I Don’t follows Whitney Richards as a young 14 year old performer. Just as she’s finding the joy in her true calling, painful and forgotten memories are drudged up by her separated and weary mother and father. Whitney Richards plays the parts of her mother and father and her young self wonderfully: you’re never confused as to who she’s playing (though I suppose the silver moustache is a good delineation too). The physical performance — her dancing, choreographed by Claire Nichols — is equally impressive as the subtle touches she grants her mother and father; as in, they could both be described as “defeated” but they each feel defeated in a particular way.
The show is bolstered by a consciously fun soundtrack, put together by sound designer Brett Smith. At the beginning it’s a little bit much, with one pop song ramming into the next with little regard for how it’s serving the story. But when Whitney Houston‘s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” blares at the end, and it actually feels cathartic and not hollow and overwrought, it’s clear that the story has earned that song.
Though I Do I Don’t is a specific story about a real person, it deals in the universal: identity, family, and hope in the face of hopelessness. Though this solo show might be designed an artist’s plea to her family, it speaks to us all.
I Do I Don’t runs until 3 September at 8:30pm at The Blue Room. Book tickets here.