Thursday, 7 November 2019

REVIEW: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change at the Chiswick Playhouse

It’s hard to know whether to hate or admire a musical that rhymes “thrill us” with “Bruce Willis”. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, who is probably better known for his work on the Tony award winning Memphis, with music by Jimmy Roberts. Originally produced off-Broadway in 1996, it has been significantly reworked and now opens the inaugural season at the newly anointed Chiswick Playhouse in its first UK performance since being re-written. This musical revue sees four actors playing a multitude of characters all singing about love, sex and dating. With so many musical numbers it’s no surprise that some are more forgettable than others, but with catchy melodies and relatable lyrics, this show has a winning formula.

George Rae and Dominic Hodson tackle the male roles with ease. Their versatility shown by the diversity of their characters. Laura Johnson and Naomi Slights take on the female parts with joy and power, again tackling an array of distinct and different characters. The four voices blend seamlessly; each with the power and presence of a soloist and the complicité and synergy of a chorister. The monologue titled First Dating Video of Rose Ritz, whilst touching, felt unnecessary in a song-cycle. In spite of this, Slights brought power and honesty to the part.

Under the talented and watchful eye of musical director, Stuart Pedlar, the score was executed well by both the cast and Pedlar. Roberts has written a difficult score, but Pedlar has honed his actors and they tackle the challenge with ease. Charlotte Westenra’s direction is modern and recognisable. She has utilised the updated script to hit the right tone throughout and ensuring the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. Verity Johnsons design of a swirling cosmos of blues
and greens as a generic background, over-layed with simple set pieces of placed and struck by the cast is simple but immensely effective; as one scene concludes it is swept away to make way for the next which is always completely fresh. Her costumes follow the same pattern and come together to create a world which is immediately swept away for the next.

With a talented cast who know their strengths (even if the accents do occasionally falter), a freshly re-worked show and a revamped fringe venue, this 90 minute romp through sex, love and divorce has struck gold in the heart of Chiswick.

Review by Max Topliss

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: D1 | Price of Ticket: £22.50
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