Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Romance Romance at the Landor Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Romance Romance at the Landor Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Romance Romance at the Landor Theatre
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19 Oct REVIEW: Romance Romance at the Landor Theatre

Romance Romance 01Early 20th century Austria, and an eligible young man and woman from the upper echelons of Viennese society are looking for love. Far from the rigid etiquette and elaborate calligraphy that instantly spring to mind, the pair of delightfully silly individuals write of their disenchantment with the trappings of societal expectations, of transformations befitting a Shakespearean play, and of illicit liaisons recounted in hushed tones.

Skip forward to the early noughties, and a group of friends holiday in the Hamptons, two couples brought together by a pair of best friends who definitely, definitely don’t fancy eachother. Not one little bit. Not even when they’ve polished off a fridge full of wine. And especially not when they’re the only ones in the villa still awake. Nope, not at all. Not at all.

Romance Romance 02Presenting a pair of stories touching on love, loyalty and – funnily enough – romance, Romance Romance is a light, but not mindless musical drawing out the irrational things we do to find and maintain affection. Accompanied by a small but perfectly formed chamber-style band, Barry Harman’s deliciously cynical lyrics vocalise all the thoughts that shouldn’t be said, his characters brought to life by a talented cast.

With what is, to all intents and purposes, two musicals presented as one show, one forming the first act and the other forming the second, it feels a touch disjointed to be taken through the full story cycle, twice; to have one story conclude and then another start, as if from nowhere. With different time periods covered and a limited cast, it’s easy to appreciate why the approach is taken, but to create something more cohesive, Romance Romance would benefit from interweaving the two very different stories together somehow – splitting them with the interval does nothing to draw out the parallels that nevertheless exist between them, and with costumes serving as visual cues, there’s no suggestion audiences would struggle to follow the progression of the show. The two stories can work together, but when the score that unites them lacks any strong musical identity, it’s tricky.

Romance Romance certainly isn’t a show that’s going to change your life. And it probably isn’t one that’ll even come close to altering the way you think about love or relationships. But it is an entertaining diversion, a good-humoured musical that’s surprisingly funny, with the capacity to charm and amuse.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Landor Theatre
Dates: 8th – 31st October

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here