Sunday, July 5, 2015





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


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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