Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and Plush Theatricals present

Romantics Anonymous

Book by Emma Rice, Lyrics by Christopher Dimond, Music by Michael Kooman

Based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes written by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband

Directed by Emma Rice

Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and Plush Theatricals today announce that Emma Rice’s critically acclaimed Romantics Anonymous will be performed live to a socially distanced audience for the final performance of their ‘digital tour’ on 27 September at Bristol Old Vic. This will conclude the company’s week of performances which sees the show streamed live across the UK and internationally from 22 – 26 September.  

Audience capacity will be limited in line with all current guidelines and extra measures will be put in place to keep audience and performers safe.

Reprising their roles, the full cast is Marc Antolin (Jean-René), Carly Bawden (Angélique), Me’sha Bryan (Suzanne/Mimi), Harry Hepple (Ludo/Remi), Laura Jane Matthewson (Young Woman), Sandra Marvin (Magda/Brigitte/Dr Maxim), Philip Cox (Father/Pierre/Receptionist), Gareth Snook (Mercier/Mumbler/Marini) and Omari Douglas (Salesman/Fred) joins the cast. 

Angélique is a gifted chocolate maker inhibited by social anxiety and Jean-René is the boss of a failing chocolate factory. When Angélique takes a job in Jean-René’s struggling factory, a fragile love affair unfolds. 
Funny, tender and painfully awkward, Romantics Anonymous is a delicious love story about breaking the mould and finding the courage to be happy.

Emma Rice today said “I cannot believe that, in less than a week Wise Children will be in a rehearsal room again and in less than 2, we will be performing our beloved Romantics Anonymous to an audience – live! The last weeks have been filled with scrupulous planning and careful preparations to ensure the safety of the cast and crew, but when we get onto that stage everything will change. Under the lights, for a few short hours, we will forget our fears and remember other essentials in life; imagination, celebration, story, community and song. Hand in virtual hand with our audience we will feel the joy and exhilaration of a collective experience; that sweet, delicious, much missed treat! And to think that we will have an actual Bristol audience watching in the flesh on our final night is almost too much excitement for a woman to bear. Joy upon joy, thrill upon thrill! Let the show go on!

Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic added, “Tickets for the streamed performances of Romantics Anonymous are flying out the door. Wise Children have shown once again that they are the company lead where the boldest theatre experimenters, artists and audiences alike, are sure to follow. This single “same room” performance is a gift from the company to their loyal and passionate audiences in Bristol and a wonderful opportunity for us at the theatre to begin a journey of welcoming you, the lifeblood of the theatre, which will roll out across the autumn.”

Emma Rice is the proud and excited Artistic Director of her new company, Wise Children. She adapted and directed the company’s first two productions, Angela Carter’s Wise Children (The Old Vic/UK tour) and Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers (Bristol Passenger Shed/UK tour). For the ENO she directed Orpheus in the Underworld. As Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe (2016/18), she directed Romantics AnonymousTwelfth NightA Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Little Matchgirl (and Other Happier Tales). For the previous 20 years, she worked for Kneehigh as an actor, director and Artistic Director. Her productions for Kneehigh include The Flying Lovers of VitebskTristan & Yseult946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus TipsThe Wild BrideThe Red ShoesThe Wooden FrockThe BacchaeCymbeline (in association with RSC), A Matter of Life and Death (in association with National Theatre), Rapunzel (in association with Battersea Arts Centre), Brief Encounter (in association with David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers Productions), Don John (in association with the RSC and Bristol Old Vic), Wah! Wah! Girls (in association with Sadler’s Wells and Theatre Royal Stratford East for World Stages), and Steptoe and Son. Other work includes the West End production of The Umbrellas of CherbourgOedipussy (Spymonkey), The Empress (RSC), and An Audience with Meow Meow (Berkeley Repertory Theatre). She was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards.

Michael Kooman (music) and Christopher Dimond (lyrics) are an Emmy-nominated writing team for the stage and screen. They currently serve as songwriters for Vampirina, an animated musical TV series on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior, reaching over 100 million viewers in 115 countries. Their theatre credits include The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (Village Theater), Orphie & The Book of Heroes (The Kennedy Center), The Enlightenment of Percival Von Schmootz (Adirondack Theatre Festival), Judge Jackie: Disorder in the Court (Pittsburgh CLO), Dani Girl (Exit, Pursued by a Bear), Golden Gate (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Homemade Fusion (Ambassadors Theatre/Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and Junior Claus (Orlando Repertory Theatre). Kooman and Dimond have received the Fred Ebb Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, the ASCAP Foundation Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, the Samuel French Next Step Award, the Burton Lane Award and the Harold Adamson Award.

Marc Antolin plays Jean-René. His previous theatre credits include Camelot (Watermill Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Sherman Theatre), Cry Havoc (Park Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors – for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, Into the Woods, Hello Dolly! (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (Kneehigh), Peter Pan (National Theatre), The Trial (Young Vic), Taken at Midnight (Theatre Royal Haymarket/ Chichester Festival Theatre), Amadeus, Singin’ in the Rain, The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre), From Here to Eternity (Shaftsbury Theatre), Matilda (RSC/Cambridge Theatre), Billy Liar (UK tour) and Imagine This (New London Theatre). His television credits include Keeping Faith; and for film his credits include London Road and Love Actually.

Carly Bawden plays Angélique. Her previous theatre credits include Ghost Quartet (Boulevard Theatre), SylviaNatives (The Old Vic), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe), wonder.land (National Theatre), McQueen (Haymarket Theatre), Assassins, Pippin (Menier Chocolate Factory), Dead Dog in a SuitcaseTristan & Yseult (Kneehigh), My Fair Lady (Sheffield Theatres), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The Threesixty Theatre), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Kneehigh/Curve Leicester /Gielgud Theatre), Sleeping Beauty (Wakefield Theatre), Vice (Arcola Theatre), Whistle Down the Wind (UK tour), Evita (UK tour – Nominated for TMA Award for Best Supporting Actress 2009); and for television, Call the Midwife and Close to the Enemy.

Me’sha Bryan plays Suzanne/Mimi. Her previous theatre credits include Caroline, or Change (Playhouse Theatre/Hampstead Theatre/Chichester Festival Theatre), As You Like It, Porgy and Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Desire Under the Elms (Sheffield Theatres), Sister Act – A Divine Musical Comedy (National Concert Hall, Dublin), The Lion King (UK tour), Been So Long (Young Vic), Moziz The Musical (Hackney Empire), Ragtime (Piccadilly Theatre), The Wizard of Oz (Birmingham Rep) and The Little Shop of Horrors (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Her television credits include DoctorsShakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators. Her film credits include The Witches 2021.

Omari Douglas playsSalesman/Fred. His previous credits include Wise Children, High Society (The Old Vic), Rush (King’s Head Theatre), Peter Pan, Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Five Guys Named Moe (Marble Arch Theatre), Tristan & Yseult (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Life (Southwark Playhouse), Annie Get Your Gun (Sheffield Crucible) and Hairspray (Leicester Curve).

Harry Hepple plays Ludo/Remi. His previous theatre credits include Rutherford and SonFolliesA Taste of HoneyBurnt by the Sun (National Theatre), Hot Mess, The Daughter-in-Law (Arcola Theatre), Wonderland (Nottingham Playhouse), Into the WoodsPippin (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Saints (Nuffield Southampton Theatres), The Lightning ChildMacbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe), Privates on Parade (Noël Coward Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s DreamRagtime (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Donmar Warehouse), Jump (UK tour), Been So Long (Young Vic), I Caught Crabs in Walberswick (Bush Theatre,) and Alaska (Royal Court Theatre). His television credits Moving OnBoy Meets GirlHustle and Misfits; and for film, PeterlooStan and Ollie and Criminal.

Laura Jane Matthewson plays Young Woman/ Self-help tape/ Swing. Her previous theatre credits includeOrpheus Descending(Theatr Clywd/Menier Chocolate Factory), Harriet Martineau Dreams of Dancing (Live Theatre), The World Goes ‘Round (Stephen Joseph Theatre), Beyond The Fence (Arts Theatre), Dogfight (Southwark Playhouse – Winner of Evening Standard Award 2014 for Best Emerging Talent), Daisy Pulls It Off (Hever Festival), and After The Tone (Bridewell Theatre). Her television credits include Press, Vera and Dark Angel.

Sandra Marvin plays Magda/Brigitte/Dr Maxim.Her previous theatre credits includeWaitress (Adelphi Theatre), CommitteeCity of Angels (Donmar Warehouse), Stepping Out(Vaudeville Theatre), Showboat (Sheffield Theatres/New London Theatre), Chicago (UK tour/Curve Theatre), Hairspray (Shaftesbury Theatre/UK tour), A Fairytale of New YorkA Midsummer Night’s DreamRagtime (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Cool Hands Luke (Aldwych Theatre), The New Yorkers (Sadler’s Wells Theatre), Porgy and Bess (Savoy Theatre), Momo (Greenwich Theatre) and A Rake’s Progress (Royal Opera House). Her television credits include as series regular Jessie Grant in Emmerdale.

Philip Cox plays Father/Pierre/Receptionist.His previous theatre credits include Romantics AnonymousMerchant of Venice (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Mousetrap (St Martin’s Theatre), Cinderella (Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds), The Daughter of the Regiment (Iford Arts), Robin HoodMother Goose (Watford Palace Theatre), The Go-Between (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Oliver! (Madinat Theatre, Dubai), Aspects of Love (UK tour), Hard Times (Theatre Royal Haymarket), Doctor (National Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Theatr Clwyd/UK tour), Paradise (Nottingham Playhouse) and Les Misérables (Palace Theatre). For television, his credits include The Armada; and for film Oklahoma!

Gareth Snook plays Mercier/Mumbler/Marini. His previous theatre credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Wise Children (Old Vic/UK tour), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Fiddler on the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatre), A Pacifists Guide to the War on Cancer (National Theatre), Casa Valentina (Southwark Playhouse), Company (Donmar Warehouse/Albery Theatre), Assassins (Noël Coward Theatre/Donmar Warehouse), Made in Dagenham, Sunset Boulevard (Adelphi Theatre), The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Aspects of Love (Prince of Wales Theatre), Les Miserables (Palace Theatre), Cats (New London Theatre), The Rink (Cambridge Theatre), The Hired Man (London Astoria), Guys and Dolls (Prince of Wales Theatre), Girlfriends (Playhouse Theatre), Closer Than Ever (Jermyn Street Theatre/Criterion Theatre/Vaudeville Theatre), My Fair Lady (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), The Full Monty and Martin Guerre (UK tours). His television credits include That Uncertain Feeling, Ten Glorious Years, Company and French and Saunders; and for film, Paddington 2, and Les Miserables.

Tickets for the performance on 27 September go on-sale on 14 September at 2pm.  bristololdvic.org.uk/whats-on/romantics-anonymous-live

Tickets for the live-streamed digital tour can be found here: www.wisechildrendigital.com





Tuesday 22 September, 7.30pm

Eden Court Highlands

Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh

York Theatre Royal

HOME Manchester

The Lowry Salford

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse

Storyhouse Chester

The Festival Theatre

Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts

Theatre By The Lake


Wednesday 23 September, 7.30pm

Derby Theatre

Theatre Royal Nottingham

Belgrade Theatre Coventry

Royal & Derngate

Oxford Playhouse

Curve Theatre Leicester


Thursday 24 September, 7.30pm

Bristol Old Vic

Exeter Northcott

Theatre Royal Plymouth

Theatre Royal Bath

Lighthouse Poole

Theatr Clwyd


Friday 25 September, 7.30pm

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festval

Norwich Theatre Royal

Marlowe Theatre Canterbury

The Old Vic


Saturday 26 September, 9pm BST / 1pm PST / 4pm EST

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, LA

Berkeley Rep

Shakespeare Theatre Co, Washington DC

Spoleto Festival, Charleston

St Ann’s Warehouse, NYC

Chicago Shakespeare Theater