Yesterday I was invited to the former Tabard Theatre to see a new version of the second-longest running musical Off-Broadway, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. The auditorium hasn’t changed but this show is rather more ambitious than previously seen here.
Updated to include references to Tinder, Grindr, Netflix and, very topically, Pizza Express, this musical covers a range of relationships from the awkwardness of first dates to first child, middle-age parents to happy singletons, married dotage to awkward widowhood.
The cast of four handle the different characterisations and couplings well, and the single piano accompaniment – if a little strident at times – is very effective. With a book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts, this musical brings all forms of love, loss and life to the fore. Similar in time and scope to I Do! I Do! (although that follows the same couple through life), it works on its familiar situations which cause conspiratorial laughs from the audience.
All four were excellent and did justice to an interesting and varied score. George Rae’s touching gay widower finding new romance at a funeral and husband of three decades finding peace with his Guardian-reading wife. Laura Johnson’s perennial bridesmaid and over-caring new mum. Hodson’s dinner-party bore and passively-aggressive dad. Naomi Slights’s bubbling tennis champ and frustrated wife who has no time for passion: all worked well.
I can’t really comment on the technical aspects of the production as the lights failed after twenty minutes and the rest of the show was performed in one setting, but this and the slight break that proceeded it was handled well by all concerned, especially Naomi Slights who had to scene change, dance, and guide a couple who had nipped down to the bar back to their seats!
The one aspect of an otherwise delightful and thoughtful show which does look dated are the bookend scenes, where the cast sing of Adam and Eve and the foibles of men and women. This feels as if it belongs elsewhere, but it’s a small quibble when the rest of Charlotte Westenra’s production is so fresh and entertaining.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change continues at the Chiswick Playhouse (just round the corner from Turnham Green station) until 30 November.
Photo credits: Savannah Photographic.