When a good idea wins plaudits, the temptation to tweak, fiddle and generally flog it to death is often hard to resist. Thankfully, the decision by writers/actors Katie Bonna and Richard Marsh to turn their 10-minute “poetry duet” into a full-length play has worked a treat.
It’s a thoroughly modern rom-com with a classic will-they-won’t-they scenario — they even reference Ross and Rachel from Friends, for goodness sake. But thanks to a witty, perceptive script and winning performances, new life is breathed into the familiar genre.
For the West End transfer, Bonna and Marsh have been replaced by Ayesha Antoine and Felix Scott and the chemistry between them fizzes and sparkles from the first moment. The couple don’t so much meet as collide when their friends’ stag and hen parties arrive at the same night club.
Too much booze results in a one-night stand at a Travelodge and the inevitable awkward and achingly funny morning after the night before. For him it’s the beginning of a wonderful relationship; for her it’s a night to be regretted.
Over the years, despite both having new partners, fate continually throws them together. But every time you think Cupid’s arrow will finally strike, something happens to push them apart.
Director Pia Furtado wisely keeps her staging simple and concentrates on the dialogue, spoken in rhyme and with some terrific one-liners: “he had a voice like a seal that went to Eton”.
At around 80 minutes, Dirty Great Love Story is short but perfectly formed: hilarious, poignant, superbly constructed and beautifully played.
Dirty Great Love Story is at the Arts Theatre until 18 March