In this weekly feature, WCBS culture critic Jim Taylor shares 30 seconds with the theatre stars and upstarts of NYC. From Broadway to Off-off, Jim tracks down the talent and gets them to spill just enough for our collectively shortened attention spans.
There’s a very nice piece playing at 59E59 right now, as part of the annual Brits off Broadway series. It’s called Great Dirty Love Story, and is conceived, written, and performed by an engaging British couple, Richard Marsh and Katie Bonner. But to say the 90-minute piece is written by the pair is to do an injustice. The entire thing is like a couplet, and rhymes throughout. It’s the story of a young couple’s one-night stand, and the years that follow as they come together and fade apart, and come together again.
Jim Taylor: It seems very real.
Richard Marsh: Hopefully it seems true — it is written from experience and written from care. I think it is honest. It’s the way a lot of people in the UK meet and get together. The story is of one-night stands, and no way is it a wrong thing at all. It’s a thing that both of us and many of our friends have experienced.
Katie Bonner: But it has repercussions, based in real contemporary truth […] which it investigates in an honest and comic way. We purposely use life events as marking our way through the story. Everyone has to go through weddings and feeling rubbish about themselves watching friends’ babies being christened, having that strange moment, thinking, “Oh my God, someone from my school is pregnant.” These are experiences that everybody has.
JT: I notice you get a lot of laughs, sometimes where they might not be expected. Does the American audience reaction surprise you at all?
KB: All the time we are surprised. Every night people are laughing at different things. Like, is it the Britishness of it that people are enjoying?
RM: I am a a technician of laughter. I obsessively try to work out, “Why does this work one night and not another night?” I do think that an audience may not be vocal but may still be enjoying it. They can still care.
JT: Let’s leave ’em with the last line of the play, OK?
RM: It’s increasingly clear from the wrong side of 30.
KB: Love stories are good.
RM: But the great ones are dirty.
Dirty Great Love Story plays at 59E59 through this weekend. Stick around to chat up the cast afterward in the very convenient theater bar. For more theatre talk and reviews from Jim, head to CBS New York.