Review: MY ROMANTIC HISTORY

 

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Inis Nua Theatre Company has done it again: introduced us to a new, young playwright, this time from Scotland.  D.C. Jackson’s  rom-com, My Romantic History,  won an Edinburgh First at the 2010 Festival, and this appealing production is an East Coast premiere.

Like many single thirty-somethings, Tom (the endlessly impressive Aubie Merrylees) and Amy (Emilie Krause) are romantically desperate. Where better to meet the next One than at the office? (“That’s how they get animals to breed in captivity: they keep them in the same cage.”)

This is such familiar material, that the script’s triumph is to give it a new twist with a dual view through dual memories: first Tom tells us about Allison, the girl who broke his heart in high school,  and then Amy tells us about Calvin, the boy who broke her heart in high school.  Time to move on folks; it takes them a while (all of the first act, and some of the second) to figure out that those heartbreaks were half their lives ago, and that (surprise!) memory is not so reliable.

All the while we watch as  their hook-up in the dramatic present continues, complete with the predictable chit-chat about the Xerox machine, followed by the predictable drinks-after-work, followed by the predictably awkward morning-after.  Their romance looks doomed by mutual lack of interest, despite the meddling of officemate Sasha (Jenna Horton who plays a variety of minor characters as well).

Tom Reing’s inventive direction makes this well-trod territory seem novel and funny and endearing; the generic office desks swivel and we’re in a bar; a file drawer opens and a stapler in a tiny wig becomes Tom’s grandmother.

There is ironical talk of “pushing the envelope” and “shifting the paradigm,” but the play actually does neither.  But with lots of funny lines delivered in surprisingly intelligible Scottish accents, it makes for an entertaining evening.

 

Inis Nua Theatre Co. at Off Broad Street Theatre, 1636 Sansom St. Through Feb.24. Tickets $20-25. Information: 215-454-9776 or inisnuatheatre.org

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