Dirty Great Love Story at the Arts Theatre
With most romcoms, we can forgive a certain number of eye-rolling clichés because they’re fun, and tell us that we’ll all find our own happily-ever-after someday. Dirty Great Love Story is no different; it’s a classic tale of boy meets girl, girl runs away and hilarious antics ensue.
Originally written by Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna as a ten-minute poetry duet performed in pubs and the odd cricket pavilion, the show has grown from decidedly humble roots into something that is just shy of a hit. Winning a Fringe First Award in 2012, it’s been lovingly crafted over the years into it’s current 75-minute rendition, directed by Pia Furtado, and is re-emerging on stages this year in London.
Revolving around the “will they, won’t they” concept, the story ambles along the usual Bridget Jones-esque routes of romantic comedies, not fully breaking from the cookie-cutter style we’re used to seeing on the big screen, despite being a two-person performance. The audience follow Richard and Katie on their journey through barbecues, festivals and, quite randomly, a delivery room as they wait for the characters to realise they actually are perfect for each other.
There’s a lot of clever wordplay, some innuendo and an offbeat lyricism that lends a pleasant pace to the whole affair; bolstered by a heavy dose of vomit and sex jokes, the show bombards theatre-goers with wit and crude puns.
Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott, of Dr Who and Inception fame respectively, showcase their talents in an effortlessly lovable display, expertly switching between playing star-crossed lovers and insufferable friends, believably adding dimension to what could be a very flat poetry recital. There is little set and few prop elements for the actors to rely on, and lighting is mostly used to indicate scene changes alongside a brilliantly designed raked stage. It’s a simple setup that keeps the focus on the largely smart, occasionally soppy, writing.
Dirty Great Love Story fits into the unashamedly feel-good category, a theatre-based version of La La Land that is heartwarming, if predictable. While it’s definitely witty, there is an undeniable sense of deja vu with the plot, the roles seem too familiar and conventional – an awkward knight in shining armour and a baby-mad woman are tired – and the piece never truly commits to subverting the genre. In spite of this, the production remains enjoyable with genuine laughs; an ideal remedy to the January blues.
Photos: Richard Davenport
Dirty Great Love Story is at the Arts Theatre from 18th January until 18th March 2017. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for Dirty Great Love Story here: