Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get’. This famous Forrest Gump quote is one I have always struggled to comprehend - but Romantics Anonymous is just that. A box full of delights, or rather a piece of delicious, rich chocolate. The story follows Angelique, a shy young woman with a passion for making chocolate. Although her talent is recognized, she struggles with the most basic of human interactions and therefore suffers painfully. Meanwhile, Jene-Renẻ is about to lead his family heirloom, the chocolate factory, into bankruptcy because he is unable to take risks. Fate leads the two together but their shy personalities keep them from acting on their feelings thus stalling their development in life.
The nine-strong cast of actors works flawlessly together, playing off one another and expertly highlighting the array of colorful characters, sprinkling the narrative. The music feels classical and French, giving the production an atmosphere of magical realism. Reminiscent of Amẻlie and The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, the narrative flows in a wonderfully enchanting way, a fine example of good storytelling. In fact, the entire production is made out to be an experience rather than mere entertainment, complete with pre-show and interval acts. The traditional musical form is taken and simplified, and the book effectively conveys the inner life of two people who are simply too sensitive for life. The Art Deco style set is Particularly noteworthy, with light up signs used in a creative manner to convey scene changes.
The production tackles the heartbreak of life itself in a joyous manner, skipping between light and dark moments with ease. It asks, ‘is tradition really what we want?’ and with regards to Emma Rice’s portfolio of fantastic productions challenging tradition, I sure as hell hope not. If you fancy an evening of laughter, tugging at heartstrings and the sweetness of chocolate, this is the show for you. Romantics Anonymous proves that even in this age of technology and disconnection we are not too good for a touch of romance. - Disa Andersen