This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.
Dirty Great Love Story won a Fringe First award last year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and there are good reasons for it. It is a story of how two people’s relationship developed over a two-year period after an initial one night stand. This is mostly delivered through witty and occasionally rude rhymes about the pitfalls of modern courtship, full of wheat-free croissants, hen nights and music festivals. The emphasis is on the grittier aspects, such as uncomfortable nakedness and ill-timed vomiting, though all played to great laughter.
Clever wordplay and rhyming set up one’s expectation of the rhyme which is switched to a non-rhyming word to great comic effect. However, the relationship is not entirely convincing and there is a superficiality to it. Unlike the film When Harry Met Sally, which similarly charts an odd couple’s relationship developing over a period of time, it lacks insight into courtship or relationships generally. In its episodic structure, inevitably there are some ponderous and plodding scenes towards the second half of the play and nonetheless, there are enough jokes and twists to keep the momentum going.
In terms of performance, Richard Marsh is well within his comfort zone as the geeky Richard and he clearly knows how to deliver the lines, though it occasionally sounds like a recital. Katie Bonna, as the love interest Katie, is energetic and passionate whilst putting less emphasis on the rhythm and rhyme of the text. It may not be the most convincing of couples but they do complement each other in their performance. The director created a generally relaxed atmosphere and the production has a looseness and friendliness to it which suits the text well. The show is also nicely punctuated and supported by some well chosen club classics. While less than perfect it does have some great lines and a youthful energy about it. Overall, it is an enjoyable production and a worthy Fringe First winner for its wit and innovation.