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Criterion Theatre
Dirty Great Love Story (2024)
Written by Kate Bonna and Richard Marsh
Sat 16th March to Sat 23rd March
Director – Kelly Davidson
Production Photos
Katie – Karen Evans
Richard – Dean Sheridan
CC – Alice Scott
Westy – Adam Lee
Producer – Emma Padfield
Stage Manager – Alan Fenn
Wardrobe – Pam Coleman
Wardrobe – Rowena Tye
Wardrobe – Diana Slocombe
Prompt – Claire McDermott
Props – Sally Patalong
Props – Mary Hernon
Props – Frances Dixon
Props – Tony Cuttiford
Props – Emma Padfield
Set Designer – Mandy Sutton
Set Build i/c – Mandy Sutton
Set Build – Mark Ward
Set Build – Christopher Hernon
Set Build – Michael Waterson
Set Build – Gordon Booth
Set Build – James Skerrett
Set Build – Carol Whitworth
Set Build – Terry Rahilly
Set Build – Hannah Burns
Set Build – Leo Hernon
Set Build – Simon Sharpe
Set Build – Grace Kimberley
Set Paint – Paul Chokran
Set Paint – Judy Talbot
Lighting Designer – Karl Stafford
Lighting Operator – Paul Harrison
Lighting Operator – Verity Gillam-Greene
Artwork Design – Kerry-Ann McGlone
Sound Designer – Paul Cribdon
Props – Claire McDermott
Props – Erica Young

“Dirty Great Love Story…is fun, fast and fantastic…. The beauty of this story is that it is funny from start to finish”
Ann Evans, Elementary Whatson

"This was a play when three main facets came together perfectly – a very clever script, superb acting and creative intelligent directing."

Charles Essex, Warwickshire World

A wry, funny, sweet-natured variation on the archetypal boy-meets-girl story.

Nice, nerdy Richard and lately dumped Katie meet when a stag night and hen party collide and end up having a drunken one-night stand. Over the following months, they acquire new partners and, when their respective best friends get hitched, fleetingly meet at a wedding, a christening and a muddy pop festival.

Wittily written, at times in rhyme, the pleasure of the piece lies in the language. It premiered in August 2012 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The play contains adult themes.

Reviews of the Play

"Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna’s verse romcom is a wry, sweet-natured account of a totally believable relationship" Michael Billington, The Guardian.

"It’ll have you crying with laughter and melting inside because of its cuteness." Francessca Charlemagne, Everything Theatre.


EDI Assessment

In line with our EDI policy, we undertake an EDI impact assessment of all our artistic programming. This play has no central diversity message. The narrative requires specific playing genders and ages, however all characters will be cast completely neutrally with regards to race and ethnicity. The story is written for a heterosexual couple. We embrace and encourage the rich tapestry of diversity that reflects the real world, and we actively welcome individuals from all walks of life to participate in the production.

Dirty Great Love Story by Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna is fun, fast and fantastic. A love story that looks doomed from the start, with all the ups and downs of neither of the two being on the same wavelength, wanting the same things, at the same time. 

The beauty of this story is that it is funny from start to finish – from the moment Rich (Dean Sheriden) and Kate (Karen Evans) walk on stage and sit, legs dangling over the edge to talk to the audience, until they take their final bow, it is funny. The pair star alongside Alice Scott as Kate’s best buddy CC, and Westy, Rich’s mate played by Adam Lee. Er... did I say mate? Possibly Rich's worst enemy at times - in a friendly kind of way!

The other thing that sets this play apart, is that the dialogue is mostly in rhyme - humourous rhyme. It could not have been easy learning lines in this manner, because unless it is word perfect the whole narrative and conversations could be thrown out of sync. So well done the four actors for such excellent delivery of their lines.

There's also a fabulous collection of love songs - or snippets of songs playing throughout the performance - before the play begins, through both acts, and throughout the interval. Everything from Friday I'm in Love by The Cure to Single Ladies by Beyonce.

The story begins with Kate and CC on a hen party, meeting Rich and Westy on a stag night. There's a mad night of dancing and drinking with a hilarious performance by Alice Scott as CC - party animal! In fact great performances by the four-strong cast, with Dean Sheriden doubling up to play his rival Matt Priest, and Kate playing Lyndsey - Rich's girlfriend, later in the story.

But back to the plot, and after Kate and Rich spend the night together, they part awkwardly - but neither of them can really forget the other. And as fate and circumstances continually throw them together, so friendships start to blossom. 

It's a play that moves along at quite a pace with some brilliantly funny scenes and witty dialogue. Plus the four actors aren't averse to getting stuck into the scene changes either. And while the scenery and props are stripped down to the basics, they are very effective.

The play is excellently directed by Kelly Davidson and marks her debut as a director of a main house production. Kelly comments. "The team behind the production, including department heads and crew, provided me with fantastic support during the production process. I am grateful for the kind guidance and understanding shown by the members of the Criterion Theatre, who have been incredibly supportive throughout."

So, book your tickets and enjoy this dirty great love story. You'll be glad you did.

Ann Evans, Elementary Whatson

Some people – you know the sort – never have difficulty getting a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Others are less lucky in love, being dumped or having difficulties even starting ongoing relationships.  Katie [Karen Evans] and Rich [Dean Sheriden] are at their best friends’ hen do and stag party, respectively.  A one night drunken tryst is the start of repeated social encounters over the next two years but never quite hitting it off.
Director Kelly Davidson cleverly uses minimal props to convey Kate and Rich meeting at numerous venues including pubs, disco, hotel, barbeque, wedding reception, christening and pop festival. Although originally written for two main characters, Kelly introduced CC [Alice Scott] and Westy [Adam Lee] as respective best friends, which moved the plot along without taking the focus from Kate and Rich’sawkwardness, unable to communicate their needs, oftenmisunderstanding each other and talking at cross purposes.

The very clever dialogue was largely in rhyming prose which needed Karen and Dean to deliver their lines with exquisite accuracy and timing, which they did superbly.  Although the rhyming was occasionally contrived, the dry often black humour had lots of laugh out loud moments.  CC and Westy’s successful relationship acted as a mirror to highlight Kate and Rich’s lack of success in love either with each other or other people, with CC and Westy acting as excellent foils to their friends.  Dean depicted particularly well Rich’s gaucheness and lack of confidence, matching Karen’s portrayal of aspects of Kate’s emptiness and loneliness.
There were many songs playing in the background, detailed in the programme, but most were from an era that this reviewer was unfamiliar with, and so added little, which was probably the case for many of the audience over a certain age.
This was a play when three main facets came together perfectly – a very clever script, superb acting and creative intelligent directing.  The Criterion deserves good audiences for this not very well known play.

Charles Essex, Warwickshire World


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