Romantics Anonymous welcomes theatre goers with open arms into the new medium of live theatrical broadcast. From the moment you open the live stream you are transported into the show’s French chocolate factory. We follow the story of Angélique and Jean René as they struggle through life; both are wracked with confidence issues but share in a love of chocolate.
The show immediately thrusts its style into the viewer’s perception with its clever use of chocolate treats being handed out to the audience members – unfortunately online viewers will have to supply their own. Romantics Anonymous itself is like a chocolate; for those with a sweet tooth it’ll be adored, but should you prefer your musicals grounded in realism it may be too sickly. Despite this, the show is a fitting first foray back into the world of theatre: full of colour and life and requiring its characters to be daring – something that is reflective of the wider theatre industry in these troubled times.
Just as chocolate is delicately decorated, so too is the set. With petite neon swirls to warming orange bulbs boarding doors, the visual accompaniments entice the viewer deeper into the world of French chocolate. No detail is wasted – I feel almost as if I’ve stepped into a model village.
Musically this show is not stand out. Whilst it is full of quaint numbers and frothy delights it never truly manages to capture or astound: Do not expect to be humming melodies or agonising over lyrics. Everything is charming, like chocolate – enough to delight in the moment but rarely something to be remembered afterwards.
However, performances across the board are outstanding, with the show’s leads: Marc Antolin and Carly Bawden capturing hearts, providing laughs, and being the perfect guides for our journey. As a show to warm the heart Romantics Anonymous is a delicious return to the theatre and another brilliant piece from Emma Rice.
Romantics Anonymous ran until 27 September. For more information, see Bristol Old Vic’s website.