Review: Romance Romance, Above the Stag

Caught in a bad romance, a gayed-up take on Romance Romance does nothing for me at the Above the Stag theatre

“There are days he blows his fuse now 
And there are nights he’s just not there”

Romance Romance was nominated for 5 Tonys in 1988 and performance nods aside, you have to wonder what the standard of the other nominees was (actually, they included The Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods…!) as its charms really rather eluded me. 

Steven Dexter’s production reframes Barry Harman’s book and lyrics into a gay context which certainly has interest. But the disparity of the two acts, based respectively on Arthur Schnitzler’s The Little Comedy and Jules Renard’s Le Pain de Ménage, means it is a curiously disengaging watch.

Whether it is the rich Viennese men pretending to be poor or the rich Hamptonites toying with abandoning their marital vows, it’s hard to fall in love with either of these gay love stories. A committed cast – Blair Robertson and Jordan Lee Davies, Alex Lodge and Ryan Anderson – do their best but it’s all a little *shrug emoji*.

A crucial problem is Keith Herrmann’s score, entirely forgettable and saccharine sweet. It does little to bind either set of characters together, in intimacy or in romance, and certainly does nothing to advance either story. Sadly I have to disagree with Lady Gaga, I don’t want no bad romance. 

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: PBG Studios
Romance Romance is booking at the Above the Stag Theatre until 6th April

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