An Interview with Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna, Writers and Performers of Dirty Great Love Story

It’s won a Fringe First and been invited to New York as part of it’s Brits Off Broadway Fest, but before they jetset off Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna will be performing Dirty Great Love Story here at Bristol Old Vic. These two performance poets teamed up to write and perform this touching, honest and hilarious tale. They’re quite funny to talk to too…

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What inspired you to write Dirty Great Love Story? Is it autobiographical?
Katie: One of the reasons we decided to write together was because we both love a good love story. DGLS started life in 2010 as a ten minute poem, which took us AGES to write. We expected writing together to quite straight forward and we thought that we were more similar in writing style than we actually are. After Rich had so much success with Skittles in Edinburgh 2011, we decided to develop it further to see if it could be a play. Turns out that it could. We love people asking if it’s autobiographical, we give them the same answer we’d give to you, after you’ve seen the show (it would be unfair to ruin it).

Sum it up in three words.
Richard: Dirty, great, lovestory.

What do you hope that audience members will take away from the show?
K:  Aching cheeks, hope that they are far from hopeless compared to us and their rubbish. No one likes a litter-bug.

How do you find working together?
R: It’s great. We’re quite different, which is spicy but fertile. Most people writing together try to create a joint voice, so the reader or viewer can’t tell who wrote what line. We’re writing for two characters called Katie and Richard (we’re very imaginative) and we’ve taken pains to keep the two voices very distinct, always giving the male and female viewpoint on each situation. You kind of get free jokes from that.

Any arguments?
R: Yes.

K: Yes. 

What’s been your greatest/loveliest/dirtiest moment?
K: Performing at Latitude / Performing at Latitude / Performing at Latitude (times infinity).

R: We did the short version of the show at the Larmer Tree festival in 2011. Two girls, probably around ten or so, sat in the front row. We were a bit nervous (it’s not written for kids in fact for 14+) but they loved it (particularly the swearing). In fact, they loved it so much they made their Mum stay till 11 on the Sunday, when we were performing it again. We were overjoyed (though I’m not sure their Mum was too happy at staying so late…)

Have you performed in Bristol before? How do you rate it as a city? Do you think it would make a good setting for a Dirty Great Love Story?
K:  I haven’t performed there before, but I have been out there quite a lot, mostly dressed as a witch or a superhero. Part of DGLS is actually set in Bristol – so there! For me, it has a real sense of being a place that you go to for a hair-down weekend of high-jinks. The piece is set in London but not steadfastly so, it’s a movable beast.

R: I grew up near Bristol, in Compton Dundon and Glastonbury, so Bristol was the nearest city. My best mate and I used to get the Badgerline bus into Bristol to go to drum shops, but the last bus home left at half six so we often had to hitch-hike home, and both pretend we’d been at the other’s house to explain why we got back so late. Hopefully when we’re doing the play I’ll be living in Bristol, so there won’t be any bus trouble.

You can see Dirty Great Love Story at Bristol Old Vic 5-9 Mar. You can find out more here.

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