My Romantic History
A Neverlasting Love
When it comes to the game of love, commitment shy Tom isn’t even sitting on the sidelines. He’s firmly ensconced way back in the erection section, cheering on morning glory and hassle free sex. And should hassles happen to come along, such as work colleague Amy clinging to him like a relationship, Tom’s yet to meet a girl he hasn’t persuaded to dump him. In D.C. Jackson’s cleverly observational rom-com, "My Romantic History,” grown-up love doesn’t stand a chance when romance has been tattooed to the sacred memory of a childhood, old flame. Yet if forever young loves end up as misremembered forget me nots, how can a fractious relationship, that should never have started in the first place, stand any chance of success? Featuring a three strong cast playing a handful of characters, "My Romantic History" tells of love, loss, and maybe finding love again in this fast paced, if somewhat hurried production, that delivers its fair share of hilarious, heartfelt moments.
Channeling the spirit of Tim Lott and Nick Hornby, Jackson’s 2010 tale of beta-male mishaps covers some decidedly familiar man-boy territory. Wherein a wannabe Don Juan from Drumcondra, and his disinterested girlfriend Amy, find themselves rethinking their bumpy relationship. Told over three distinct acts, the first discloses Tom’s lopsided side of the story, from that first night of smashing sex to the realisation that things have suddenly become a lot more serious. Flipping the coin, Amy proceeds to give her lopsided side of the story, offering a somewhat different take to Tom’s. An unsatisfying, if understandable ending, sees Tom and Amy, along with their respective ex’s Alison and Calvin, and the ever perky, Samba drumming Sasha, negotiating a new normal. One which leaves something of an unconvincing aftertaste when it comes to love conquering all.
If director, Janet Moran, matches Jackson’s rapid fire script with some lively pace, it’s pace that comes with something of a price tag. Across the board, comic timing can sometimes feel a little rushed, ensuring an endless flow of smirks that don’t always ignite into laughs. Yet if Moran’s machine gun delivery often grazes rather than hits the target, when it finds the bullseye it’s a laugh out loud delight. Pushing everyone to the front, Rodo Villalobos’s all encompassing set evokes a myriad of spaces with clever simplicity. Which Faith Boucher’s lighting lovingly embraces, allowing for a few opening night vagaries. Not so successful is Ewan Cowley’s cartoonish sound design, striving a little too hard in search of obvious laughs.
Which can sometimes be the case with Alan Mahon’s likeable, if somewhat one toned Tom. A naturally instinctive actor, luring the audience into his confidence with irresistible charisma, Mahon can look comedically adrift at times, showing less comic composure than his two co-stars. With the unnerved Tom risking getting lost in frustrated, whiny self-pity, Mahon looks far stronger, and far funnier, when he plays straight man to his two comedy co-stars. An illuminating Roseanna Purcell as the unsure Amy turns in a wonderfully nuanced, comic performance. As does a hugely impressive Kelly-Marie Ní Cheallaigh as the sidekick sunbeam Sasha, alternating between a range of comic characters with ease and confidence.
Originally set in Glasgow, “My Romantic History’s” tale of neverlasting loves transfers easily to Dublin courtesy of some timely textual adjustments, with its both sides of the coin approach proving to be wonderfully illuminating. If it feels hurried at times, this will hopefully settle as the run progresses. For there’s a lot of heart and soul in "My Romantic History,” and an awful lot to be enjoyed. With a little less haste and a tad more steadiness, it could yet prove to be a genuine comic marvel.
"My Romantic History" by D.C. Jackson, presented by Verdant Productions, runs at The Viking Theatre until November 16.