Review: Dos

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Dos is the first of three plays to be performed at the Assembly Rooms Theatre to celebrate Durham Drama Festival 2024.

As I await the start of the performance, I’m struck by the beauty of the set, as designed by Roxy Toyne. The location of the whole play is a hotel room, in which there’s a chaise longue, a bed, a desk and a bedside table, all seemingly old and expensive. Spirit bottles stand atop each item of furniture, and the whole set is enveloped in a soft yellow light. Contrasted with the furniture are holiday debris which lie scattered around the room: inflatable flamingos and a tipped-up suitcase amid what used to be its contents are strewn all over the floor, anachronistic and distasteful among the solid walnut and red velvet furniture. The set is gloriously naturalistic, straight from an Ibsen play. It’s beautifully claustrophobic and captures the atmosphere of the play exquisitely.

It’s beautifully claustrophobic and captures the atmosphere of the play exquisitely

The play features only two characters – Dex (Horatio Holloway) and Joni (Maariya Khalid). They’re a couple on holiday in Mallorca, where the family of the latter lives. Whilst stuck in their hotel room during a summer storm, tensions between them grow, and the future of their relationship seems uncertain. The themes of sexuality, familial judgement, gender norms and selfishness are all of principle concern. Each one is handled tastefully and creatively.

’s script is generally a solid one, full of empathy, maturity and sensitivity. She crafts an intricate plot and a nuanced relationship from a remarkably simple premise, and portrays the struggles of a young couple in an honest way. The script doesn’t shy away from showing the ugly imperfections that can often burden a couple, but equally shows a deep love between the pair. It has its funny moments, too, disrupting the humid stress of the rest of the play with comic breaths of fresh air. It must also be said, however, that the play can seem melodramatic at times. The couple’s endless arguments run the risk of becoming monotonous and exhausting, and could have done with being edited down.

She crafts an intricate plot and a nuanced relationship from a remarkably simple premise

As far as the performances are concerned, I was blown away. Holloway and Khalid command the stage from start to finish, making the script’s funny moments funnier and its sad moments sadder. There’s a scene about halfway through in which Dex’s speech is muted, and Khalid narrates her character’s thoughts as she listens to him. Even here, when she must bear the collective concentration of the audience alone, Khalid embodies confidence and authenticity. Similarly, when Dex finds himself alone in the hotel room later in the play, Holloway carries the weight of the whole production on his shoulders seemingly effortlessly. The pair of stars are truly spellbinding.

Dos is, on the whole, more than worthy of opening the Assembly Rooms Theatre’s celebration of Durham Drama Festival 2024. It’s a thought-provoking case study of a modern queer relationship and demands to be watched multiple times to be fully appreciated.

Image credit: Fourth Wall Theatre Company

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