My Romantic History at Red Stitch

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Red Stitch’s production of My Romantic History (by Scottish playwright DC Jackson) is a light-hearted contemporary exploration of love, sexual politics and the absurdity of modern relationships, centering around three thirty-something office associates.

Work colleagues, Amy and Tom have a drunken one-night stand that segues into a convenient  but empty, even resentful, pseudo-relationship. The action skips playfully and adeptly from present to past (with fantastic use of the stage set dominated by three toilet cubicles that act as kind of ‘time machines’) where the characters’ past relationship fails and younger selves shed light on their present romantic conundrums.

The unique and playful use of cinematic devices such as shifting point of view – allow us inside Tom and Amy’s heads.  The playing out of Tom’s point of view of his relationship with Amy, followed by Amy’s very different  perspective, reveals the all too familiar gulf of miscommunication and disconnection that plagues so many human relationships.

Unfortunately though, the witty and inventive script is undermined by what seems to be an overwhelming age-inappropriateness of the characters’ behaviour and antics. The characters scream early-twenties, in some instances even adolescent, not the thirty-somethings that they are supposed to be. Their behaviour would be more understandable and amusing in the context of their twenties but as thirty-somethings, to me at least, it made them seem pathetic verging on the downright unlikable, all the more so for their gender stereotyping – the desperate/clingy/neurotic 30-something single girl, her nemesis – the cool, calculating man-eating princess and the default,  ‘chew your arm off the next morning’ chauvinism of Tom, despite his eventual  redemption at the end of the play.

The obviously talented cast (Tim Potter, Zoe Boesen and Ngaire Dawn Fair)  were hampered by heavy-handed direction, with the overwrought performances really undermining the inherent wryness and nuance of the script.

Overall, while I think younger and older audiences may enjoy this light-hearted, theatrical exploration of modern hetero-sexual dating and relationships, I think anyone who is actually in their thirties might find it a little harder to connect with.

My Romantic History plays at Red Stitch Theatre
2 Chapel St, St. Kilda
Until 13 August
Tickets: www.redstitch.net

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