Theatre

Review: Dirty Great Love Story at Arts Theatre, London

This two-hander comedy charms with its clever use of spoken word and laugh-out-loud silliness.

In Dirty Great Love Story, we explore the development of a would-be relationship through the eyes of both parties – Richard (Felix Scott) and Katie (Ayesha Antoine) – as they meet, get drunk, get it on and then try and get the hell away from each other.

Both characters act as sometime-narrators and guides to our story, often breaking the fourth wall to explain to the audience what they’re thinking or feeling through witty monologues or confessional soliloquies.

These moments are spliced with scenes with each other, in which they either play our star-crossed lovers or other roles – ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, family – or sometimes scenes with just themselves, where the actors are playing multiple roles in one moment.

While this approach may sound chaotic, it’s anything but; instead being utterly charming as the story unfolds.

Such charm is bolstered by the use of spoken word throughout, giving the show a poetic, almost Shakespearean feel in its delivery. In addition, its modern setting and references to the pitfalls of dating in 2017 – Tinder, hook-ups, lad banter – make the show feel utterly relatable, so that the audience are raptured by the similarities between the poor characters onstage and their own, personal experiences of finding love.

The stage is minimal, with a clever use of lighting and the occasional prop being the only thing to set the scene: stools become the front seat of a car, chairs at a dinner table; a parasol acts as both a sunshade at a summer barbecue and a Christmas tree; a hatch in the floor opens to deliver cups of tea, steam rising upwards as the kettle boils.

But such scant scenery only helps to focus the mind on the narrative and the words being said. For that is truly the focus of DGLS. It’s one helluva punchy production, and while the rhymes, word play and use on intonation and inflection might seem jarring at first, we’re sure it’ll soon grab you as it hurtles along.

It’s a quick show, over in one act, and a mere hour and twenty minutes long; but that seems enough, especially when you consider just how many lines Scott and Antoine are rattling through (and without a single slip-up, we should add).

We won’t spoil the ending by saying whether Richard and Katie get a happy ending, but suffice to say, this show has bags of charm, humour and appeal, and is the perfect way to keep you entertained on a cold winter’s evening.

Dirty Great Love Story is now showing at Arts Theatre, London. Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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