Dirty Great Love Story review - January 2017

storytelling at its finest

It’s not often that you are collectively greeted on a West End stage by two shiny-faced performers peering out under the house lights. Both exude a nervous energy that sets the tone perfectly for this Fringe First Award-winning show, which refreshingly bashes down the fourth wall with a heavy hammer.

Dirty Great Love Story is the story of writers Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna; namely a love story, although this achingly, brutally funny comedy successfully manages to avoid spilling over into sappy rom-com. It's the story of how the pair met, how they kept on meeting and how they eventually begin to figure it’s more than just coincidence. And truly, it is brilliant.

Felix Scott and Ayesha Antoine, performing in place of Marsh and Bonna, have an electric chemistry that proves to be an ideal pairing. Both are at ease with the quick wit of the writing, which is simultaneously hilarious and unmistakably relatable. They become a range of different characters; Antoine's Cece is a particular favourite of the audience, whilst her Katie definitely strikes a chord with many female audience members. Scott is purely lovable as Rich, fighting his corner as the underestimated hero.

There are countless golden moments in this inventive production. It's fast-paced with swift direction and a minimal set that simply lets the story do the talking. It's true to suggest that this “how we met” type story is not all that original, but Dirty Great Love Story takes the familiar and moulds it into something completely new; a tremendously funny outing that showcases storytelling at its finest.

But most of all, it's achingly relatable. It covers every possible scenario, every single moment that we have or could experience through dating; the terribly awkward first date, the hideously annoying ex that keeps reappearing, the realisation that your best friend could actually be the one, the unfathomable idiot boyfriend, the unexpected desperation for a baby... And the audience laugh with a warm heart, because we all know at least one of those feelings.

What an incredible breath of fresh air to have such a dynamic show in the West End. It takes a little while to warm up, but once it does, the audience hang on every word. Which is good, because every word is utterly fantastic.

Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.
25 January 2017, Arts Theatre