Ramona Tells Jim holds all the components of a great play: comedy, danger, nostalgia. And yet, it seems as though Sophie Wu’s script could benefit from a redraft in areas to give the play more substance. Directed by Milo Mathews, this Fleeting Theatre production provides an enjoyable evening of entertainment, heightened by the great performances of its cast. However, I came away feeling as though more could have been done with this story had certain changes been made to the script itself. 

The play switches between two timelines, set in 1998 and 2013, exploring the relationship between Ramona and Jim. The pair meet as socially awkward teenagers, outsiders to popular society. Ramona “of Englandshire” struggles to fit in with her classmates on her geography field trip, while Jim “of the shittest village in Scotland” spends his time fascinated by hermit crabs and rock erosion. Flash forward fifteen years, Jim, now 32, struggles to balance his high maintenance 19-year-old girlfriend with his personal interests, while Ramona struggles with the secret she has been keeping since they first met. 

This play has the potential to be great, but the content itself has some flaws. While I did enjoy its cyclical structure, the reveal of what Jim had done back in 1998 is underwhelming, as the audience was soon able to piece together events even before the characters themselves. Despite the attempted anticipation, the revelations of the past do not have much consequence, not really adding much to their relationship in present day. There are missed opportunities for drama to unfold. Pacing also is an issue, as there are many moments where no one is physically on stage due to costume changes or timeline jumps, and while these moments are of course necessary for the play to run, they are prolonged to the extent where the audience was pulled out of the story, so perhaps some redirection could be used here. Also, towards the end we are suddenly expected to understand a rather unexplained and underdeveloped character change in Jim, which hadn’t really been present through the rest of the play, and in turn feels a little rushed. 

This being said, I did thoroughly enjoy the performances the cast. Mariana Nunes and Callum Anderson as Ramona and Jim bring hilarity and awkward charm to their roles, which makes it impossible not to root for their relationship, particularly in the 1998 timeline. Their naivety and innocence are sweet, and yet they are still bound by their immoralities. The way they are able to completely switch between the two times is hugely impressive, and of course hilarious, as we could still tell that these are the same characters simply in different phases in life. They do not try to be completely different people, allowing the structure of the play to feel more connected. The pair also have impeccable comic timing. Additionally, Lucy Alexander gives an exceptional performance as Pocahontas (yes, that is her real name), frequently being an absolute scene-stealer with her eccentric character choices and humour. By the end you can’t decide whether to love or hate her. 

Overall, however, I would say that this play cannot simply rely on the talent of its cast alone if it wants to go further. Much of the work that could be done to give this play more of an impact comes down to the script itself. That being said, I still really enjoyed this show.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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