Review of Dirty Great Love Story at the Arts Theatre
The clue is in the title of this slight but genial romantic comedy that lands in the West End following a series of successful fringe runs, offering audiences a taut and enjoyable 70 minutes in the company of a pair of hapless yet unlikely lovers. What the show has perhaps lost in the transition from 'above the pub charm' it has gained in slickness and style and a pair of well crafted and perfectly positioned performances.
It's often a tough ask to get audiences on side for a two hander, relying on a deep connection to both actors and characters which can run the risk of wearing thin. Having previously been played by the writers themselves the characters of Richard and Katie are now given an additional perspective thanks to Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott's charm and irresistible chemistry.
Told in a soft yet sometimes cliche rhyme the language bounces effectively between the pair building into delightful passages of back and fore that are designed to build humour as they complete each other's sentences and play with double entente. Rather than ever feeling tiresome this allows a gentle unfolding of their story, with plenty of room for humour in both text and situation.
Beginning their story at a post stag and hen-do hook-up the awkwardness is captured efficiently enough as to elicit gasps and recognition from the audience who remain on the play's side from the word go. It rarely delves too far below the surface as we follow their somewhat contrived future meetings at Barbecues, Christmas parties and festivals, and as they both become mutual godparents to the same child the romcom sign posts are well and firmly planted and the piece rarely strays too far from well established tropes and familiar conventions.
It's the performances that elevate the text beyond this and whilst the pair may feel slightly more together and grounded than their characters suggest, there's a fantastic energy and affable charm that maintains both energy and rhythm throughout. Pia Furtado's efficient yet stylish production finds the correct pacing and timbre in the text that develops a strong bond with the audience which is vital to its overall success. It may not be the greatest or dirtiest love story in existence but it is affectionately played and provides some much needed January joy.
What the Press Said...
"Briskly directed by Pia Furtado, it is, I suspect, the ideal show for couples on an apprehensive first date."
Michael Billington for The Guardian
"It won't change your world but it will certainly make you beam"
Fiona Mountford for The Evening Standard
External links to full reviews from popular press