"The ideal show for apprehensive first dates"
-The Guardian-

"A lot of laughs, some as dirty as the show's title promises"
-Broadway World-

"More than a touch of Richard Curtis to this rhyming romcom"

Sorry, Dirty Great Love Story closed on 18 Mar 2017

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Packed full of laughs and beautifully heart-warming

Critic Rating

25 January 2016, Arts Theatre
Shaun Millis Shaun Millis
Originally written and performed by Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012, the show was met with great acclaim, even winning a Fringe Festival Award. Now arriving in the West End five years later, it still manages to retain the original fun and excitement that saw it become so popular.

A simple story of a messy one night stand and the subsequent fallout of the two hapless protagonists as they attempt to continue on with their intertwined lives, the play brilliantly taps into many of recognisable sentiments and situations of anyone going through their late twenties and early thirties, ideal for fans of Phoebe Waller-Bridge & Vicky Jones’ recent smash hit Fleabag.

The plot could easily feel clichéd but it is the instantly recognisable situations and relatable characters that make it both hilarious and heart-warming at the same time.

Marsh and Bonna do not reprise their original parts, but instead Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott do a fantastic job at the leads. Only featuring two actors, it is down to Antoine and Scott to carry the play but they do it brilliantly, taking on the challenge of switching between the lead roles and auxiliary characters, managing to create significantly memorable personalities without them feeling too clichéd or like stereotypes.

The beauty in the performance is that despite the erraticism, desperation and unpredictably of the Richard and Katie and characters, it is their vulnerabilities that ultimately drive them. It is the backbone of the original scrip and both Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott manage to elegantly entwine this throughout their performance.

The staging is simple, with director Pia Furtuado ensuring that despite a sparse stage, the performance still fills the space of an, albeit fairly intimate, West End venue.

It’s a simple story and at just over an hour, quite a short running time for a West End show, but it feels very suited to this format. Anything longer would feel the need to justify its running time by attempting to offer some kind of profound or existential dissection of life, but instead Dirty Great Love Story allows itself to be a fast-paced, funny and relatable depiction of life on the cusp of thirty.

Primarily being written in verse, the short running time also acts in its favour. Packing more into each line and making for a denser narrative, allowing the story to charge along at lightning speed without ever having felt too rushed.

It is rare that a Fringe show manages to take to the West End stage and still be a success while retaining what originally made it popular, but packed full of laughs and beautifully heart-warming, Dirty Great Love Story more than holds its own.

Reviewed by Shaun Millis

Michael Billington
Scott captures precisely Richard’s bumbling gaucheness and covert gallantry and Antoine’s Kate is beguilingly sparky, even if her attempt at oral sex in a moving car has unfortunate consequences. Briskly directed by Pia Furtado, it is, I suspect, the ideal show for couples on an apprehensive first date.
Broadway World
There's a bite to the romantic exchanges and a well established, but never overstated, anxiety about what it is like growing older with the world sliding by while you stand still. If the play is a little too long and a little too pleased with itself at times, it's a price worth paying for those sand-in-the-shoe lines that roll around in you head long after the laughs have been forgotten.
So the love story didn’t quite get me all gooey-eyed or wobbly kneed or however you’re supposed to feel. But it’s great seeing a show grow from a poetry reading in a Balham pub to a teeny-tiny fringe space to the dirty great hall of a West End theatre, and these two klutzs fill it adorably.
The Stage
Marsh is a former London poetry slam champion and Dirty Great Love Story is packed with unexpected rhymes and deft comic imagery. It’s the best, most inventive element of a feel-good show that beats a well-worn path.
Fiona Mountford
But what never falters is the show’s unassailable good-natured charm, warmly reciprocated by Antoine and Scott as they keep the energy levels up wonderfully in Pia Furtado’s bouncy production. Richard loves Katie but is too shy to declare himself; Katie is too angst-ridden to see what’s right in front of her, thoughtfully providing her with wheat-free breakfasts.