Josie Long’s latest creative venture comes in the form of Radio 4 sitcom Romance and Adventure, a programme about 30-something-year-old Josie who has recently lost her job at her local library and, having lived in London all her life, has decided to pack up and move to Glasgow. Written by and starring Josie Long and produced by Colin Anderson, it seems that Romance and Adventure has gradually evolved over a good few years, sharing its title with Long’s 2012 Edinburgh show and having had a pilot air on Radio 4 in 2014.
Romance and Adventure is reminiscent of Katy Brand’s debut novel Brenda Monk Is Funny in the sense that it works to capture the spirit of Scotland, with both writers seeming to take the view that the country is massively under-appreciated. Long’s salutation to Glasgow, however, is not so much focussed on comedy, showing perhaps that writing about what you know doesn’t mean you simply have to write about your job. And one can’t help but wonder if the job of a librarian is something that Josie Long would love to do.
There are frequent allusions to autobiography, with some of the dramatised Josie’s confessional monologues being very reminiscent of the comedian’s own stand up, which is remarkably honest in itself. But this character isn’t merely a mouthpiece for Josie’s own views. If that were so, there would be far more room made for political comment of which fans of Long are used to. Although there is the odd anti-Tory remark, causing the occasional surprising splutter of laughter, these stand out all the more against the day-dream-like fantasy. And that is what listening to Romance and Adventure feels like: living in a day dream.
As the episodes progress, London begins to represent ‘real-life’ as it were, and Glasgow a distinctly timeless Utopia that we all secretly wish we could escape to. Romance and Adventure is blissfully easy listening and shows us a more vulnerable side to Josie Long as a creative performer. With her trademark openness and relatability, Long demonstrates an admirable respect for the role comedy plays in communication and emotional wellbeing.