Dirty Great Love Story

★★★★★

Review By H. Hemming

Dirty Great Love Story is a beautifully witty, relatable tale of a one night stand gone right. Eventually.

It’s a story about Katie Bonna and Richard Marsh, who also happen to be the co-writers and original actors. Following on from a UK tour and a run in New York, this bubbly play graces the West End for the first time.

There are new actors in this production, and Bonna and Marsh comment that it will be a treat watching two others play out their embarrassments and awkward moments… and a treat it certainly is.
From the moment the lights go down the audience are enveloped in a warm, welcoming emotional hug. We are taken with open arms into these peoples’ lives (after the customary yet comical please-put-your-phones-away message). Actors Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott bring us up to speed straight away with who these characters are, and how they react to different situations. What ensues is a hilarious journey of misinterpretation, regret, friendship, rivalry, and best of all: love.

Dirty Great Love Story Production Photos
Photo Credit: Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

Bonna and Marsh both have poetic backgrounds, and the piece moves along in a beautifully lyrical rhythm. The comedic timing of Antoine and Scott is never hindered by the fact that it is spoken in verse, and laughs from the audience come frequently. This show is entirely relatable given today’s dating culture, and there is a lovely normality throughout. Nothing is deemed too unlikely to happen in real life, and there are some clever observations of the male versus female ways of thinking.

Antoine and Scott both switch to play other characters too – the ongoing angel/devil on shoulder friends of Katie and Richard. These characters are marked out clearly through physicality and vocals and so it is easy to follow who is who. Moreover, the transitions are flawless despite the pace.

Radiating  positivity and energy, Antoine switches between playing her characters with ease. She shines through as one of those people who everybody wants to be friends with. Brimming with life but with an endearing quality that makes us empathise with her mistakes.

Scott has a wonderful appealing ‘geekiness’ to him from the start. Scott plays three parts and all are well executed and clearly defined. Stereotypes are rife in this play, but in a subtle way, so that the audience just smile to themselves and think, “Yes, I know one of those!” Scott’s natural ability to get the audience to congratulate and commiserate with him is brilliant and he really takes us along on his quest to get the girl.

Dirty Great Love Story Production Photos
Photo Credit: Richard Davenport for The Other Richard

This show is simply brilliant. Director Pia Furtado has brought the best and worst of these characters out, and the audience is fully entwined in every minute. The set and lighting are simple, yet conjure up exactly where they are at that moment. The sound design by Richard Hammarton is nicely subtle, and adds to the piece without taking away. A treat for the ears as well as the eyes.

Antoine and Scott are in it together from the beginning, both as actors and as characters. They really are flawless. Go and see this play if you want a genuine giggle at life and at this crazy, sometimes dirty thing called love, and at how different it can be when you’re sober.

(One tip though – take a cushion. After approximately ninety minutes with no interval, the chairs at The Arts Theatre get pretty uncomfy.)

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