My Romantic History is a decidedly caustic take on the romantic comedy genre. If soft-centred romantic films of the kind that usually star Hugh Grant are your cup of tea this might not be for you. On the other hand, like last night’s Lantern Theatre audience you might just find DC Jackson’s bracingly honest approach hard to resist, not least because much of his play is very funny.
We’re in Glasgow (imagine a kind of adult Gregory’s Girl) and thirty-something Tom has just started a new job. After a boozy midweek session in a bar near the office he ends up going home with colleague Amy. They embark on a relationship, though both are still haunted by the spectre of earlier failed teenage romances. Tom gives us a running commentary as things develop. Amy seems the keener of the two, Tom comparing himself to Gandhi as he adopts a policy of ‘passive resistance’ to deter her. But then the play flips and we view the same course of events from Amy’s perspective. It turns out she may not be as enamoured of him as he believes, leaving us to ponder whose version of reality is closest to the truth.
The play’s wittily observant about the embarrassments and self-deceptions of relationships, and is also good on the humdrum nature of office life. As Tom and Amy, Nick Wright and Jessie Harris are both excellent, as is Lesley-Staum Lewis, who takes on several roles but mostly plays Sasha, their enthusiastic but comically irritating workmate. Much of the script (liberally spiced with expletives and lewd humour) takes the form of monologues from Amy or Tom, and the strong performances ensure a close bond is established between the characters and the audience.
Pacey direction by Shelley Piasecka keeps the laughs coming thick and fast (the jokes can occasionally be a bit obvious), and it’s not difficult to see why My Romantic History has been such a hit in London and Edinburgh. Its ideal audience is probably around the same age as the characters, and the predominantly youthful crowd that packed the Lantern clearly enjoyed the show. Quintus Theatre Company offer us a very polished production of an entertaining play.
*** A romcom for the head as well as the heart
My Romantic History is at the Lantern Theatre (Blundell Street, Liverpool) on Monday 2 November and Tuesday 3 November. For more details, click HERE.