In most brilliant ‘will they, won’t they?’ stories, we kind of know that they will. But that doesn’t in any way soothe the special kind of aching frustration that brews inside of us when we watch a couple, so clearly meant for each other, go through a series of near misses. Dirty Great Love Story is a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy gets other girlfriend, girl gets drunk and pukes on guy, years of miscommunication occur and then they all live happily ever after – eventually.
Written by Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, we follow Richard (Felix Scott) and Katie (Ayesha Antoine) through their off again, on again relationship as they struggle to navigate love and life. It seems that everyone can see that they’re made for one another, except for themselves. What follows is a charmingly British look at the run-up to romance, complete with meddling but well-meaning friends and drunken mishaps.
The entirety of the play is spoken in a form of verse, turning the play into an extraordinarily long love poem, of sorts. The rhyme also gives the play pace and movement, paving the way for on-the-nose humour and sharp wit. The cast, comprised of just Scott and Antoine, may be small but they are mighty.
Scott makes for an adorable and dorky yet endearing Richard, and multi-roles as crude Northerner and Richard’s best mate Westy, and the utter knob and boyfriend of Katie with a voice “like a seal who went to Eton”, Matt Priest. Antoine, while sharp as a tack as sassy Katie, also takes on another role, as screechy text-talking best friend CC. The way in which the pair seamlessly switch in and out of these roles is admirable.
While the set and costumes may be basic, a more detailed affair couldn’t keep up with Richard and Katie’s lives. The versatile set design by Camilla Clarke is heavily complimented by transformative light designer Mark Howland, taking us from nightclubs to Travelodges using colours and string lights. With sound design by Richard Hammarton, a contemporary setting for a modern-day love story is crafted – the perfect place for Richard and Katie’s story to unravel.
Essentially a play about a couple plagued by bad timing, it’s terribly funny and wonderfully British. All of us have a friend like CC or Westy, unfortunately almost everyone knows someone like Matt Priest, and I imagine at some point we’ve all felt like Richard or Katie. It’s an honest, home-grown, heart-felt comedy. Somewhere between Shakespeare and Richard Curtis, Dirty Great Love Story is a 2017 fairy tale that will leave you swooning, warts and all.
Dirty Great Love Story is playing at Arts Theatre until March 18.
Photo: Richard Davenport of The Other Richard