Dirty Great Love Story, Arts Theatre

Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna have the sort of falling-in-love story you see in movies. The two years that it took them to get together are a ridiculous mashup of drunken disorder, absurd coincidence and goofy comedy. So they wrote a show about it. Character comedy Dirty Great Love Story uses rhyming poetry (the language of love) and narration to reveal the exquisitely human and often cringy landscape of modern dating. Though the supporting characters are underdeveloped and there’s an overall lack of depth, the show has undeniable charm that can warm the coldest of hearts.

In this production, Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott are Katie and Richard. The two actors have some pretty adorable chemistry and are skilled multi-rollers. They captivate and repel each other and the audience in turn, with moments of genuine vulnerability (apologetically bumping into each other in a Christmas party cloakroom) and revulsion (a drunken trip home after a festival). It’s a great balance that doesn’t shy away from bodily functions, but doesn’t err towards saccharine cutesiness.

Bonna and Marsh’s script skilfully uses poetry without slaving to the form. Awkward moments are punctuated by equally clunky rhymes, though this device doesn’t serve the script – delivery and pacing would suffice rather than deliberately employing bad writing. Despite this the language and poetry provides a refreshing lens through which to view a timeless and familiar story. The other characters are rather 2D and add little context, but Richard and Katie are fortunately more fully fleshed, warts and all.

Director Pia Furtado and the cast are spot on with the pace and timing, and the length is perfect for the format employed. That’s not to say that the story wouldn’t work within a different structure, but the verse suits the episodic dips in and out of reality. It’s a lovely, albeit fluffy, example of storytelling, perfect for a romantic night out or a laugh with good mates followed by a pub session and tales of love and war.

Dirty Great Love Story runs through 18 March.

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