My Romantic History addresses tendency for nostalgia in personal history

This article is from 2010

My Romantic History addresses tendency for nostalgia in personal history

Acclaimed Scottish dramatist Daniel Jackson returns with contemporary relationship drama

Playwright DC Jackson’s latest work deals with the complexities of contemporary relationships. Steve Cramer takes notes

Perhaps the most interesting contemporary twist on the love story this Fringe will come from the ever-reliable Daniel Jackson. The acclaimed Scottish dramatist is already an old hand at such fare, with the likes of The Wall and The Ducky proving his smarts in the idyllic provinces of young love.

With My Romantic History Jackson has moved beyond the adolescent and early college years of his smitten characters, but not so far as you might think. Here, a couple in their early 30s are contemplating the possibilities of a life together, but each, in different ways, is held back by that first great love of the past. ‘People of my generation obsessively nostalgise their personal history, we all make up these quasi-Freudian stories of our personal narratives,’ Jackson explains. ‘People tell well-rehearsed stories about their childhoods, and they don’t say it, but you almost hear, hanging there, “and this is why I’m like I am today”. So people operate off these flawed memories.’

Jackson’s comedy is set to gently disabuse us of such self-indulgence. ‘It’s a more realistic vision of love and romance and relationships,’ he says. ‘Often these days the time for the big relationship is in people’s early 30s. Now, at about that age, you look at the people around you, they’re either twisting or sticking. I think there’s only so much twisting you can do, and there’s an element of narcissism in the willingness to walk away from something that is good for you.’

And mass culture has a lot to answer for in this respect too.

‘The Hollywood narrative has affected our perspective on love. We’re a generation that buys into that, but it’s too neat, too packaged. You see people trying to force the mess of genuine human existence into that package.’ But if all this leads to torment, it can, as Jackson’s work shows, also be very funny.

Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, 6–29 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), times vary, 228 1404, £115–£17 (£11–£12). Preview 5 Aug, £11 (£6).

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