Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

My Romantic History

D C Jackson
Bush Theatre and Sheffield Theatres in association with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Bush Theatre
(2010)

My Romantic History production photo

Glaswegian Tom has just started a new job and is wary of his female colleagues and office entanglements but only minutes into the play and after quite a few after work drinks he finds himself shagging Amy at her place. Compact and funny, My Romantic History charts the development of the pseudo-romance that Tom did not want to have along with glimpses back to his schooldays love for Alison, who dropped him but for whom he still carries a torc. Iain Robertson is a delightful Tom, with a tremble to his rich voice and splendid timing as he shares his thoughts with us and plays the role he thinks expected of him at the office or in bed.

As Tom confides ' seems like she's my girlfriend It's kind of like I went to the presentation to get Marks and Spencer's vouchers and somehow I ended up with a time-share in Crete.'

Alison O'Donnell is Amy and Rosalind Sydney samba-drumming Sasha, another girl at the office who at first seems to fancy him. They both cleverly play the women as though seen from a man's point of view, exaggerating those feminine mannerisms just a touch while it is Tom who is telling his story

Half way through, this history gets rerun from Amy's point of view and we discover she has a similar take on their relationship and find even identical lines take on different colouring and she harks back to boyfriend Calvin who so loved her he had her name tattooed on his skin. .

Lyndsey Turner's production, in Chloe Langford's set made up of cardboard archive boxes and bits of office equipment (and a miniature box tree in a silver pot on Tom's desk hinting at a side of the character that is never explored), emphasises rapport with the audience and handles the shifts in time and place with aplomb, its confidence encapsulated in the naturalness with which an office cabinet is used as a door. Slide projections, presentation flip charts, a white board used like an incident room record of evidence all smoothly segue into the action.

We have most of us been there and it would be painful if the truth wasn't also so funny. Things sag a little towards the end but it is momentarily only, and they pick up as both parties begin to face up to realities. All the cast do some doubling with a dozen or more other characters, Rosalind Sydney handling everything from Amy's mother and grandmother (with the help of a puppet) to a couple of macho blokes. There is lovely playing from all three. It may need tightening somewhat but My Romantic History is a show to enjoy.

Run ends 20th November 2010

Velda Harris reviewed this production in Sheffield

Reviewer: Howard Loxton