Review: Romantics Anonymous at Shakespeare's Globe

Romantics Anonymous is a charming original musical about two shy reclusive people falling in love in a chocolate shop. What more do you need to know, really? I went to see Emma Rice's new show which she wrote and directed at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre this past week, thanks to a TodayTix Cyber Monday deal. I ended up falling in love with this absolutely delightful pure musical, which is the last of Emma Rice's work before she leaves the Globe.

It tells the story of the reclusive and socially awkward Angélique, a creative chocolate maker, and Jean-René, the owner of a failing chocolate shop. Apparently it's based on a French-Belgian film called Les Emotifs Anonymes. It's a funny and heartwarming love story as they realize that their biggest obstacle is their own fears and doubts. (Somehow terrifyingly relatable.) The general vibe of the show reminds me a bit of She Loves Me, one of my absolute favorites. 

The music is fairly typical of contemporary musical theatre songs, but well done and the dancing is impressive especially in such an intimate venue. I love the way they played with the fourth wall, often interacting with the audience and at one point, a character even points out that they're singing. The show is set in France and including some dialogue in French. While it's definitely not necessary to know French to enjoy the show; as someone who studied French for eleven years, it made me happy to hear it (and with very decent accents too!). 

Carly Bawden is lovely as Angélique, with a stunning clear voice and acting that keeps the character from being trite or cliché. The entire audience falls for her just as Jean-René does. Meanwhile, Dominic Marsh manages to portray a bumbling awkward Jean-René without becoming a caricature and portrays both the drama and comedy of the role equally well. 

The ensemble of the show truly shine as they flit between playing many characters. I must mention that Marc Antolin's Ludo (a cheeky boy who works in the chocolate shop) was particularly funny and Lauren Samuels always cracked me up as the voice of Jean-René's self-help tapes. Natasha Jayetileke was incredibly good at switching between roles and making each one a distinct, fully formed character. 

The show is only on until 6 January so I recommend booking tickets now so that you don't miss it! While I tend to veer towards darker, more serious shows, Romantics Anonymous absolutely warmed my heart and left a smile on my face for the rest of the day. 

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