Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Pia Furtado: Dirty Great Love Story

By | Published on Monday 23 January 2017

‘Dirty Great Love Story’ first came to our attention when it made a big spash at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012, garnering oodles of great reviews and a Fringe First. Back then, and in subsequent tours, it starred its two writers, Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, but now it’s back with a new cast at London’s Arts Theatre.

Pia Furtado directed the initial show as well as this new production. To find out more, I put some questions to her ahead of the two month run.

CM: Tell us about ‘Dirty Great Love Story’ – what’s the, er, story?
PF: Well, it starts with the collision of a hen party and a stag party, spins through drunken carnage and soul-searching and finishes with both characters figuring out what they need! It’s a messy, funny, sometimes painful, uncompromisingly honest will-they-won’t-they 21st century romp.

CM: Who are the main characters in the piece and what are they like?
PF: It’s a story about Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna. Richard is keen, slightly geeky (bespectacled!), full of jokes and fun and vulnerabilities. Katie is trying to heal her heart in the aftermath of a terrible break up – from the man she thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with. Through the show we also meet their best pals, CC and Westy, and other romantic figures in their lives, Matt Priest and Lins.

CM: Who plays them? Can you tell us a bit about the actors involved?
PF: Felix Scott plays Richard (And Matt and Westy) and Ayesha Antoine is Katie (and CC). They are both technically brilliant actors with bucket loads of stage experience (though you might know them from BBC’s ‘Holby City’ and ‘The Archers’) They’ve been brilliant fun to have in rehearsals.

CM: It’s a funny show, obviously, but does it tackle any serious themes?
PF: Love is a pretty serious thing!

CM: Why were you attracted to the script? What made you want to direct it?
PF: I actually came on board before the script was complete – it was more like a 20-minute sketch, so at first my process on the show was also dramaturgical. It is a delight to direct something that is in verse that isn’t Shakespeare. There is a musicality to Richard and Katie’s writing that I adore and am a huge fan of. Also – it is a heart-warming comedy, and in politically surreal times like we are experiencing, I think there is a great joy in celebrating human connection, positivity and love.

CM: Have the playwrights Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna had any involvement in the rehearsal process?
PF: Absolutely. We have reworked the script in places, and Richard and Katie have been absolutely at the centre of this.

CM: You work on opera as well as theatre pieces, don’t you? How do the two differ in terms of approach?
PF: Although of course there are many differences in the process and practicality of theatre and opera, the biggest difference as a director is that in opera, the rhythm of the piece is not dictated by you, but by the conductor. In theatre, a central part of the process as a director (and for the actors) is discovering the rhythm – and finding the flexibility as it changes daily, with each audience responding differently to the gags!

CM: What’s coming up next for you, and what aims do you have for the future?
PF: Next up is a Verdi Opera called ‘Aroldo’. I’m also developing a new musical and hope to get stuck into some more exciting new writing.

‘Dirty Great Love Story’ is on at The Arts Theatre until 18 Mar. See this page here to book your tickets.