09 August 2011

Review: My Romantic History

My Romantic History
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
7 August 2011
Red Stitch
to 13 August

"If you haven't met someone by the time you graduate, you're going to marry some cunt from your work." So, freelancers have no hope, but how wonderful to see Red Stitch putting their audience on their stage.

My Romantic History is about the accidental workplace affair of Amy and Tom, who are in the dangerous single and 30ish zone. Come one, we've all been there.  You had nine drinks with "colleagues" because you didn't have anything better to do and after all he wasn't a "retard or a rapist" and he was captivated by the beauty of your tits. Then you got a bit stalky because he didn't declare undying love the morning after, even though you don't really like him and the only reason you think you had sex is because you're weren't wearing knickers. Textbook romance. Unless you're reading this from the house you own with someone you met at uni and have been acting like an adult since you were 18. But then you probably don't have time to go to the theatre because you're at home looking after kids you love, having dinner parties with other happy couples and exploring swinger web sites.

One of my favourite TV shows in my 20s was Thirtysomething. I shook my head at how these grownups could be so fucked up and knew that I'd never be like them. Now, at the other side of 30ish, I marvel at how totally together those fictional people were. There are many reasons why we love watching stories about not-perfect relationships.

Scottish playwright D C Jackson creates shut-up-that's-my-life empathy by showing how both sides see the object of their non-desire. The woman is a desperate freak in his eyes; he's a boring loser to her. It's a bit like When Harry Met Sally without the glamour of New York or the as-if! romantic gestures. But it's just as funny.

Ngaire Dawn Fair (Sasha) is the ideal hippy counterpoint to Zoe Boesen's confused Amy, and Tim Potter captures all perspectives of Tom with the kind of love and understanding that continues to make him an actor who should always be seen.

Peter Mumford's too-gorgeous toilety design ensures that we never see this affair with romantic-coloured specs. After all, if these two work out, there's hope for anyone who's desperate, or drunk. Meanwhile, David Whiteley's direction lets our sympathies change so much that it's impossible to take his or her side, so we have to like them both and wish that we could step in and help them make the best decisions. But if they made the best decisions, he wouldn't end up seeing his ex when he's covered in puke, she wouldn't be confessing to the bitch from work and we wouldn't have half as much fun watching.

My Romantic History is the sort of writing that brings its audience into the story because it's so close to home. The genuine laughter comes from recognition. Sometimes the secret of comedy is simply telling the truth. There's a week left. See it, unless your love life has been perfect.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheate.com

Photo by Jodie Hutchinson