By D.C. Jackson
Directed by David Whiteley
With Ngaire Dawn Fair, Tim Potter & Zoe Boeson
ROMANCE and the workplace: they are strange bedfellows. And it is that bizarre premise that is cunningly explored in My Romantic History — the perfect not-quite-romcom to open the second half of The Red Stitch Actors Theatre 2011 season.
Combining smart observation and a touch of modern cynicism, the story begins as a boy-meets-girl tale, complete with drunken Friday night drinks and waking up in a colleague’s bed. The witty script then delves into the ghosts of past lovers that often shape future relationships.
For the first third of the play, the audience is party to the perspective of Tom who, after hooking up with his new colleague Amy, feels a little claustrophobic about the thought of their ensuing relationship. Then the typical romantic comedy plot is turned on its head with Amy chronicling her recollection of the events in the second strand of the play. She includes details omitted by Tom where she was portrayed as a girl besotted rather than a girl who was needled by colleagues about not having a man at the age of 32 so she decided to “give Tom a go”. She is a more reliable narrator.
Neither character is overly endearing or likable but they are disturbingly real, which is perhaps the saddest part of all.
You find yourself cringing as much as you do laughing at the pretentious Tom, deftly played by Red Stitch regular Tim Potter.
Zoe Boeson displays a remarkable ability not only to deliver crisp one-liners but she’s also poignant in her role as the eager-to-please Amy.
Ngaire Dawn Fair sharply fills the gaps, playing a multitude of characters including samba-drummer office busybody Sasha.
Written by D.C Jackson, My Romantic History was a popular hit at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the majority of the charm and wit of the script has remained untarnished by the move from Scotland to Australia.
Under the clever artistic direction of David Whiteley, the final moments will have you pondering long after the actors take their bow.
Anna Byrne, Sunday Herald Sun (25/07/2011)
There are so many excruciatingly familiar home truths in My Romantic History (by Scottish playwright DC Jackson) that if it weren’t so damn funny it would be almost unbearable. The play won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival, has been produced all over the UK and it isn’t hard to see why.
Amy and Tom are work colleagues who share what might have been left as a drunken one night stand, had they been ten years younger. The pair’s emotional fumblings and ill-informed doings as well as a ton of other characters are hilariously played out by the talented cast of three (Tim Potter, Zoe Boesen and Ngaire Dawn Fair), who leap about from one identity to another in time and place, telling a tale of not only Tom and Amy’s current relationship but those from the past which have bearing on the present. Uniquely, we get the two perspectives in the story, Tom’s then Amy’s, and see how different scenarios are interpreted in the light of each character’s own history. No interaction is neutral, there is no such thing as a clean slate and this clever play brings this to light using a singular humour.
The play is succinctly adapted to Australian culture with familiar settings and references lending it a Melbourne sensibility. The play teems with characters but the actors are so talented there is no trouble distinguishing them. Moving from a bogan dildo wielding boyfriend to a Scottish grandmother, Ngaire Dawn Fair just needs to flick an eyebrow or deliver a quick smirk to transform herself completely; she’s one of those amazingly expressive actors who radiates a particular charm of her own. Tim Potter is superb as Tom who manages to redeem his unlikeable self as the story progresses, and Zoe Boesen’s pragmatic Amy is familar to all of us as the 30 year old who’s suddenly, uncomfortably, the only single one left amongst her friends.
The set is funny in its own right: three dunnies which double as office cubicles, cupboards, cars and kitchens.
The universality and honesty of the young couple’s compromises are illustrated with immense wit. This play bristles and glows, the one-liners make you gasp, squirm and nearly wet yourself. Here is an elegant and truly funny production with outstanding performances, a real triumph for Red Stitch and a fantastic opener for their second season.
Liza Dezfouli, InPress (20/07/2011)