There’s a natural rhythm to typical rom-com rituals: the one night stand, the subsequent awkward run-ins, and the series of self-created obstacles for the lovers. So Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna’s decision to dramatise these mostly through rhyming couplets is apt. Sparely staged and charmingly gauche, their Dirty Great Love Story leaves its audience rapt.
Marsh and Bonna write and act as themselves, an everycouple, to uniquely touching effect. With little more than a pair of stools and a backdrop, the couple’s narrated story stokes the same emotions as any Nora Ephron movie.
It’s grittier than Hollywood though. The lovers’ inner monologues as they drink up and slip up play like a poetry version of Peep Show; rich with filthy quips. The biggest laugh of the show is mopped up by a knowing reference to 200 KFC wet-wipes.
The plot of Dirty Great Love Story is admittedly unoriginal. Through weddings, Christmas parties and christenings, Richard and Katie are more familiar for their onscreen contemporaries than those of real life. Richard’s sweet nerd recalls the IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade while Katie makes Bridget Jones-style bad decisions. But with no screens, smoke or mirrors, Marsh and Bonna also adeptly bring their idiosyncratic best friends and dubious other halves to life, so much so that they threaten to steal the show.
The greatness of this Dirty Great Love Story isn’t due to any grandiose flourishes or striking originality but rather it is to be found in its simplicity.