My Romantic History (Tour - Harrogate)
Reform Theatre Company's ''My Romantic History'' is an "undemanding" story revealing how ghosts of relationships past can return to haunt the present
My Romantic History first made an impact in 2010 at the Edinburgh Festival and, like a number of plays doing the rounds of small-scale tours, it has decided Fringe characteristics. It's smart, clever, true to life and instantly appealing, without putting any strain on the audience's emotions; it's economical in terms of actors, staging and length – I'm far from certain that the insertion of an interval to break up its 90 minutes is a good idea, though its placing is well chosen.
D.C. Jackson is a disciplined playwright well in control of his material, but the material itself is decidedly slight. Tom and Amy are two 30-year-olds in what seem to be relatively undemanding office jobs. When Tom joins the firm they come together almost by default, each confident in his/her lack of commitment, each still emotionally involved with an earlier relationship, dating back to school/university. Then Amy's pregnancy changes the landscape.
What is more pleasing than the undemanding plot is the ingenious way Jackson merges present with past and action with narrative and asides to the audience, especially the re-run of the same events from Tom's and Amy's viewpoints, complete with commentary on feelings and intentions.
Reform Theatre Company is taking My Romantic History on a tour of one-nighters at theatres, schools and halls, with an eight-night run at co-producer Harrogate Theatre in the middle. The totally anonymous set may be justifiable in the circumstances, but it's pretty unhelpful to the actors. Gerrard Fletcher's unobtrusively attractive music, however, is a decided bonus.
Reform Theatre founder Keith Hukin directs a well-paced production in which Ryan Cerenko (Tom) does sterling work drawing the audience in and projecting a gauche and essentially nice brand of selfishness. His appearances as Amy's former sweetheart are lively, but rather less convincing.
Fiona Organ differentiates Amy from Alison, the subject of Tom's teenage dreams, with the skill you'd expect of someone who last year played both the young ladies in The Importance of Being Earnest (different productions!). Samantha Edwards, manically active as the office's only samba drummer, delivers a series of effective caricatures as the other characters of both sexes who are part of Tom or Amy's story.
My Romantic History continues at Harrogate Theatre Studio until 8 March. Later tour dates include the Henry Fanshawe School, Dronfield (10 March) and the Spotlight Theatre, Bridlington (11 March).