Ro­man­tics Anony­mous

The Week - - Arts -

Mu­sic: Michael Kooman Lyrics: Christo­pher Di­mond Direc­tor: Emma Rice Sam Wana­maker Play­house, Shake­speare’s Globe, New Globe Walk, Lon­don SE1 (020-7401 9919) Un­til 6 Jan­uary 2018 Run­ning time: 2hrs 20mins (in­clud­ing in­ter­val)

Emma Rice’s part­ing gift to Shake­speare’s Globe, which she is leav­ing af­ter just two sea­sons, ow­ing to dif­fer­ences with the board, is “no brick­bat, but a bou­quet”, said Lyn Gard­ner in The Guardian. Ro­man­tics Anony­mous is a “mul­ti­fac­eted gem” of a piece, “choc-full of love, generosity and joy”, and it fits the Globe’s in­door Ja­cobean the­atre per­fectly. Based on a 2010 Bel­gian movie, Rice’s “play with songs” charts the del­i­cate love af­fair be­tween two peo­ple crip­pled by shy­ness and emo­tional inar­tic­u­lacy: reclu­sive choco­latier Angélique and choco­late fac­tory owner JeanRené. In less sen­si­tive hands, it might all be as “cloy­ing as an over­scented vi­o­let cream”: and it def­i­nitely is “sweet-toothed”. But Rice pulls it off beau­ti­fully – a feat “all the more bit­ter­sweet, be­cause witty stage­craft com­bined with an abil­ity to tug at the heart­strings is a re­minder of what a great and dis­tinc­tive tal­ent the Globe is los­ing” with Rice’s pre­ma­ture exit.

On this ev­i­dence, they’re fools to let her go, said Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. I haven’t been so charmed by a new mu­si­cal in yonks – from the jazzy score (with echoes of Satie and Poulenc, too) to the de­li­cious way in which the show “cel­e­brates ex­per­i­men­ta­tion over stale tra­di­tion”. The man­ner in which Angélique is de­ter­mined to “break the mould” of Jean-rené’s old­fash­ioned choco­late firm of­fers “more than a nod” to Rice’s tus­sles with the Globe’s board over her breaks with es­tab­lished prac­tices, said Paul Tay­lor in The In­de­pen­dent. But it is done with “delectably joy­ous” generosity and not a hint of ran­cour. What a “gra­cious, big-hearted swan­song” this is.

Among the nim­bly mul­ti­task­ing cast, Joanna Rid­ing is out­stand­ing in a trio of ex­u­ber­ant turns, said Susannah Clapp in The Ob­server. And Do­minic Marsh and Carly Baw­den are per­fect as the lovesick pair. All told, this “sweetly funny, gor­geously ten­der” piece is an “elec­tric” farewell from Rice, said Do­minic Maxwell in The Times. I wouldn’t be sur­prised if it fol­lows her out the door and pitches camp in the West End.

Do­minic Marsh: per­fect

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