by D C Jackson.

Crucible Studio 55 Norfolk Street S1 1DA 15 September-2 October.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm no performance 27 Sept Mat Wed & Sat except 15 Sept 2.15pm.
BSL Signed 22 Sept 7.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 23 Sept.
TICKETS: 0114 249 6000.

then Bush Theatre Shepherds Bush Green W12 8QD 20 October-20 November 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat except 23 Oct 2.30pm.
Audio-described 6 Nov 2.30pm.
Captioned 13 Nov 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 020 8743 5050.

Runs 1hr 40min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 September at Birmingham Rep Theatre (The Door).

Comedy of those treading carefully in the emotional minefield of an office.
It’s plainly evident to anyone who’s been to a studio theatre anywhere ever, that a play called My Romantic History showing in the smaller spaces at Birmingham Rep and Sheffield Crucible, plus London new-writing venue the Bush, isn’t going to be a soft-focus affair of candlelight and valentines.

Even the publicity has bowdlerised the script, quoting the statement that any single graduate is going to marry some “idiot” from work. Except, when the line comes up in Tom’s opening speech he’s not talking idiots. But D C Jackson’s comedy of office sexual politics hits on a point – when the whirl of possible university relationships settles into nine-to-five routine, with work providing the main opportunity for any sexual itch to take hold.

It’s a situation flavoured by the tones of Jackson’s native Glasgow (he’s not to be confused with Northampton’s D C Moore – seeing how few playwrights are known by their initials, what’s the odds on two D Cs emerging virtually simultaneously?). And given a sadness because the history of sordid thoughts and seedy habits which sees Tom in bed with Amy, then has him trying to escape any consequential relationship, is mirrored when the action swings from HIS to HERS and Amy tells us how it was for her.

Needless to say, the initiative-taking and relationship-shunning shifts between accounts. But in each case it’s set against the real, unreturned love for someone still around but otherwise committed. Though Jackson lets his twin accounts go on a mite longer than they can sustain (especially when told twice over) he convincingly captures the nervy, shamed experience of office lives and not-really-loves.

Iain Robertson and Alison O’Donnell switch rapidly mid-speech between polite responses to each other and alarmed recording of real reactions to the audience, and catch in minor roes they play the heartiness, uncertainty and sense of forbidden territory when meeting people not seen for years. Rosalind Sydney provides a superbly-judged smiling superficiality, defensively apologetic only when soliciting Tom’s time for her musical hobby. Lyndsey Turner’s production marshals this swiftly among the packing and other bureaucratic impedimenta which form Chloe Lamford’s wittily-used set.

Amy: Alison O’Donnell.
Tom: Iain Robertson.
Sasha: Rosalind Sydney.

Director: Lyndsey Turner.
Designer: Chloe Lamford.
Lighting: Philip Gladwell.
Sound: Emma Laxton.
Graphic artist: Sean Tiday.

2010-09-13 13:57:11

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