Dirty Great Love Story – Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine step onto the stage of the Arts Theatre, break the fourth wall, and he states, “this is a story about Katie,” and she states, “this is a story about Richard”. What follows is a funny bit of business about phones and interruptions, designed to urge those in the audiece, who have not yet switched off their phone, to do so. This preamble sets the tone; this is to be a dialogue directly with the audience, based on our shared experience. It’s an exploration of a relationship seen through the eyes of the viewers – Katie and Richard.
Dirty Great Love Story started its life as a ten minute poetry duet that Katie Bonna and Richard Marsh performed in the back room of a pub in 2010. It went through various stages of development and premiered in its current form at the Pleasance, Edinburgh, in 2012.
Both writers are poets, amongst many other accomplishments, and Richard even won the title of London Poetry Slam Champion!
Snappy dialogue, monologues spoken directly to the audience, and colourful rhyming verse, all delivered in quick succession, through various characters gives Dirty Great Love Story a very contemporary feel and a novel structure.
“Two hopeful hapless romantics get drunk, get it on and then get the hell away from each other.”
Everything about Dirty Great Love Story says economy, precision and purpose, which allows the naturalistic humour of each situation fully emerge, over-layed with the poetic rhymes, giving depth to the character’s inner dialogue. Pia Furtado (Director) has expertly crafted the performances of the two actors, allowing them room, but also keeping the pace and focus just right. Camilla Clarke’s Design and Mark Howland’s lighting are wonderfully simple and wonderfully effective. Both allowing for the free flow of space and time as if we are walking through the mind of these characters, free to play, unencumbered, yet crystal clear.
The basic plot line is simple and ripe for development. What makes this play tick are the impressive acting skills of the Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine. This is a demanding piece that requires the actors to keep the energy pitched correctly. They cheekily develop the characters, physical and comic, while moving us through every awkward, heartfelt, disappointing, embarrassing and loving moment of a budding, yet thwarted relationship. Felix Scott’s Richard cannot be so geekish that the audience don’t want him to succeed. Ayesha Antoine’s Katie cannot be so off-hand that we grow to dislike her. Balancing acts of this kind are successfully achieved by fine actors, to the sheer joy of a willing audience who is collectively laughing at itself.
Special mention must go to Richard Hammarton (Sound Designer and Composer) for perfectly punctuating the proceedings with an authentic and effective soundscape that never overpowered but played between the lines and gently propelled moments.
Dirty Great Love Story is not just an evening of great humour. It is a piece filled with great insight, superb acting, and many ‘laugh out loud’ moments shared by both sexes. Quite an accomplishment.