My Romantic History

Sun 7th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Frances Ball

at 21:56 on 7th Aug 2016

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The show, performed by the Hysterically Human Theatre Company, charts the minefield of relationships in modern life, doing so with incredibly sharp observational comedy and candidly straight talking characterisation. Although it starts well, it really takes off in the second half, stepping up from a fairly standard comic piece to a very well executed, and actually very poignant, depiction of our society.

Tom, played by Boston Alexander, is a middle of the road and reasonably unlikeable man, “a self confessed B grade guy”. Alexander characterises the role very well, and manages asides to the audience without gimmick, and although the character doesn't feel completely fleshed out until later on in the show, he is still an interesting protagonist.

The timing and the sketch style could be a little obvious, but it’s saved by the actors’ consistently strong skill in variation. Rebecca Divine, taking on multiple characters, excels unfailingly across the board. She doesn't miss a beat as she switches between characters, defining each one as distinctly as if they were each played by a different actress. I would not be in any way surprised to see the names of these three actors in lights in the future, and Divine is definitely one to watch for her skill as an actress and as a comedian. Lori Olive Kennedy, as Amy, comes into her own as Amy’s perspective is developed through the plot, and she is also fantastically funny. There are many, many hilarious moments in this show, but the relationship between Amy and one of Divine’s characters provides one of the best running strands of humour.

Ultimately this is a fantastic piece of comic drama about real life - the comedy works because it’s recognisable, and because it’s recognisable, the climax of the plot is very moving. Several people in the audience were moved to tears, but this is the kind of show that has you rolling around with laughter in the second before it makes you cry. It's just so remarkably honest, and the first rate acting picks up on traits of modern life that seem to be like holding a mirror up to the audience – a smart-talking, foulmouthed, riotously funny mirror.

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Una O'Sullivan

at 10:24 on 8th Aug 2016

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‘My Romantic History’ is a comic account of modern relationships, which will both make you laugh, and leave you in tears. Don’t be put off by the awful-sounding title— this is a sharp, well-executed tragicomedy, and although it centres on the most beaten path of themes, it offers a healthy irreverence for romanticism.

It begins with a relationship’s germination in the workplace, but we soon see how every relationship lives and dies under the shadow of those that came before it. Almost every force but love gathers to pressure two single co-workers into a relationship, and we gradually learn that Tom (Boston Alexander) and Amy (Lori Olive Kennedy) aren’t in it for anything that resembles romance.

Their shallow, egocentric motives are emphasised as they navigate the wavering path between meaningless sex and a relationship neither of them want. The comic aspect of this is honed to a razor-sharp point, and hilarious work from the whole cast has the audience helpless with laughter.

There is a darker edge to the play, however, as the characters flit between present and glorified past, showing the indelible presence of their ‘romantic histories’. Character is developed in clever and amusing ways— cameo appearances from Amy’s ex-boyfriend Calvin (Rebecca Divine) are some of the funniest skits of the show, and some of the most poignant. Whichever character is narrating the story has the ability to freeze the other characters and offer an aside of what is really in their mind, and this is exploited to all its surprising potential.

The cast throw themselves into the comedic parodies of workplace behaviour with gusto, and there is a smoothness to the choreography and costume changes which lends yet more humour to the awful proceedings. The all-Scottish cast give a powerful performance, and were visibly moved as they took their bow at the end.

This brilliant piece of new writing by D.C. Jackson is full of gymnastic twists and turns. It treats potentially stodgy events with levity, and lighthearted shenanigans with perceptive insight. This stirring, quick-witted satire of the modern dating world is definitely worth checking out.

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