Lockdown review: Romantics Anonymous

A second stream by Emma Rice’s company Wise Children, this is live on stage by a cast who have bubbled and Covid-tested to bring us a show which looks just like the ones we used to know in that shadowy time at the beginning of 2020.

Romantics Anonymous is a new musical, which started at Shakespeare’s Globe but now tours venues and comes live into your home. It does have some similiarities with Amelie, but oozes a good-natured warmth as shy chocolate whizz Angelique navigates a tentative with her new boss Jean-Rene (a bundle of tension and nerves).

An old-fashioned show with memorable melodies, dance sequences, and sumptuous sets and costumes, Romantics Anonymous proves to be just the ticket for a cold Friday evening, a sparkle of energy and feelgood tunes which will leave you smiling.

Screencaps from Romantics Anonymous
Screencaps from Romantics Anonymous

Carly Bawden and Marc Antolin take the leading roles in this buoyant production, with a chorus line of quirky characters to support them. Gareth Snook brings a variety of vibrant people to life, pushing Angelique on and breaking the fourth wall to bring us in as conspirators to this quiet romance.

Me’sha Bryan, Philip Cox, Sandra Marvin, Omari Douglas, Harry Hepple and Laura Jane Matthewson complete the ensemble with a showy and joyous energy. There are colourful lights and changeovers (the set design is based on the original by Lez Brotherston).

Emma Rice’s book and direction perfectly complement Christopher Dimond’s knowing lyrics and Michael Kooman’s lush tunes, brought to life by musical director Tom Brady with his three musicians (Sarah Bowler, Sophie Creaner, Mike Parkin).

They are set back in a space atop the chocolate factory, floating above the drama and dance going on below.

Screencaps from Romantics Anonymous
Screencaps from Romantics Anonymous

Romantics Anonymous streamed live from the Bristol Old Vic on 25 September as part of a “digital tour”. No technical problems were noted – I watched via the TicketCo app on Amazon Fire Stick.

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