My Romantic History just might be the smartest play recently written by a Scot. D.C. Jackson’s ‘non-rom com’ is filled with witty lines, honest insights into modern relationships and fractured characters that are believable. It also has a lot more teeth than most plays and has the habit of biting when you least expect it, and even though it is filled with risqué moments it also has an invigorating honest air.
The play has a common enough set-up: a he said/she said about a relationship. What is refreshing is not only its cutting humour but also the cynicism that both parties have towards romance and their past love lives. We first see the relationship from the point of view of Tom, who feels trapped but doesn’t want to be the one to end things. The action then flashes back to Amy, who also feels trapped, not only because she feels she is growing old but also by the expectation of needing to be part of a couple.
Director Jemima Levick has wisely created a production that is different from the original, which premiered in last year’s Edinburgh festival a mere 13 months ago. Gone are the labyrinths of cardboard boxes and harsh-edged characters; instead, Levick’s production is a lighter affair. It focuses more on the humour and generating sympathy that the previous production lacked. It’s a warmer, more playful production that allows the pessimism to peek through rather than dominate.
The company of three are all solid. Katrina Bryan might have the hardest job performing the ensemble role, but she plays multiple supporting characters with aplomb. However, kudos most go to both Garry Collins and Jessica Tomchak, who not only have the monumental task of playing the same character in two different interpretations but also the other’s past lovers. They have a great chemistry and perform instinctively together.
However, the real star here is Jackson. His script is near perfection, brimming with insights, characters and lines that strike both the heart and the funny bone. It is an accomplished script that is simply theatre at its best.
My Romantic History is on tour until October 15.