at Pleasance Dome, Monday 20th August 2012
Ordinarily, I’m not a rom-com fan. They’re too soppy for my liking. Dirty Great Love Story, however, is a romantic comedy which I can bear. More than bear. I could watch it over and over again. Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna’s script takes the genre and offers up a more truthful, twenty-first century rendition. A mix of performance poetry, theatre and comedy creates a show which is laugh-out-loud funny and will leave you with a smile bigger than the Cheshire Cat’s.
Bonna and Marsh play Katie and Rich, who had a one-night stand and now have to deal with the consequences. They go through phases of liking and then disliking one another, becoming friends and then worst enemies. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the fact they are each aware of the other is the only thing which remains constant. The story is an old one. The way in which is presented is semi-revolutionary.
The text is a weird mix of verse and comedic patter, maintaining a constant rhythm whilst simultaneously talking directly to us in asides and one-liners. The fact poetry is used is particularly effective, either allowing us to see where the next line is going or surprising us with an unexpected rhyme or a complete subversion of the rhythm. It also means a whimsical, romantic tone is placed upon this raw, modern story about sex and roadside cafes, reminding us we are not being told anything new, but having it told to us in a different way.
It’s difficult to describe just how or why Dirty Great Love Story is so tonsil-waggingly hilarious. The images Bonna and Marsh create are gloriously imaginative, and their tone while telling them is just too real to not laugh. We can all relate to this, no matter how; we have all been as blind, stupid, and infuriatingly unkind as the couple. All we can do is laugh at them. It’s a kind of catharsis.
Pia Furtado’s simple staging revels in the beauty of the language, making simple, bold moves which never cloud the telling of the story. It is smart and slick, forcing us to listen to what’s being said. The choice to keep both actors on stage the whole way through (even when the other is monologue-ing) is also an intelligent one; these two characters are always in each other’s worlds, and even when they are furthest apart they can still sense the other.
Dirty Great Love Story deserves a longer run and bigger audiences than it is currently enjoying in Edinburgh. This is a plea to all theatre programmers out there to book this show in your schedules. It’ll sell out, I promise. Within a year, this show will be huge, so you’d better get there first. Bonna and Marsh have crafted a gloriously hopeful, wonderfully compelling and refreshingly witty piece of theatre which both makes us laugh and restores our faith in those around us. It also makes rom-com haters love a rom-com. So book it. Everyone deserves to see this show.