Romantics Anonymous was the final show that Emma Rice as Artistic Director of London’s Globe Theatre staged at that venue before both parted company.

So in love was she with her creation that she resolved to give the show an extended life with the result that many more non-London theatregoers will have the opportunity of experiencing a wonderfully warm-hearted, playful, touchingly romantic tale of two dysfunctional, painfully shy people who eventually find the happiness they yearn for each other.

Of course being Emma Rice, whose early years were spent in the company of Cornwall’s anarchically inventive Knee High theatre, the journey “les émotifs” make is accompanied by a four person band with composer Michael Kooman’s music bringing to life Christopher Dimond’s lyrics  with a soundtrack that has both pop and syncopated rhythms that the on-stage cast bring to life and make their own with joyful enthusiasm.

The scenes where the support group “les émotifs” meet to try and break through their painfully shy inability to share their thoughts and perceived inadequacies with each is touching to watch as each attempt to conquer their internal demons and physical conditions that these have brought about.

Four and five star reviews across the board by the national newspapers reveal the universality of appeal the show has – a rare accolade in itself uniting the often disparate views of these papers.

Carly Bawden as Angélique and Marc Antolin as Jean-René lead the company as respectively as the talented chocolatier and chocolate factory owner.  Their inability to communicate their instant attraction towards each other is excruciatingly, joyously, painful to witness at times despite the ensemble company in various guises attempting to bring them together.

The set, built by Bowerwood Production Services, is littered with illuminated neon signage. Both principals and ensemble are required to dance and sing culminating in an Emma Rice coup de theatre with the Angélique and Jean-René’s ‘dancing on air’ number at the conclusion, which was followed by rapturous audience approbation and a deserved standing ovation from a capacity audience.

Emma Rice has that rare talent to bring together some of the best theatrical talent around and create a theatrical experience time and time again, the effect being far greater than the sum of the parts. The Globe’s loss is every theatregoers gain!

Romantics Anonymous is at Bristol Old Vic until 1st February 2020 and Touring in the Spring and Summer of 2020 including Los Angeles, Washington DC and Charleston, USA.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Romantics Anonymous at Bristol Old Vic
Author Rating
Romantics Anonymous at Bristol Old Vic
Starting on
January 23, 2020
Richard has been involved in non-professional theatre in Bristol since his teenage years having played over one hundred roles (including Toby Belch and Falstaff), at various venues including but not exclusively at The Minack (in Cornwall), Bristol Hippodrome and the Redgrave Theatre (Bristol). He has also directed some twenty productions. He has been a theatre critic for about twenty-five years.


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