BWW Review: I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, Chiswick Playhouse
The Tabard Theatre has been rebranded as Chiswick Playhouse. If their opening production is anything to go by, it promises a highly exciting new chapter for this long-standing west London venue.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change has been affectionately revived by Charlotte Westenra. Premiering in 1996, the show saw far more success overseas and was somewhat overlooked by UK audiences. This new adaptation has been updated to reflect our current times, whilst also being given something of a British overhaul. The variety of regional accents enable this US play to feel relatable to a home audience.
From awkwardly uncomfortable first dates to separations, we are presented with an array of different stories on the subject of romance. Shortening the musical to a pacy 80 minutes certainly pays off. We're left with a sharp and snappy piece, brimming with character-driven humour while also containing depth. Notable differences from the original production are the fact that gay characters are included, again allowing it to feel relevant for a 2019 audience.
Steven Harris ensures the choreography contributes to the slickness of the show, with lighting designer Neill Brinkworth providing a visual feast, but it's the talented cast of four that makes this such a joy to watch.
The quartet invest their absolute all into their performances, embracing the strong material and clearly enjoying themselves. The fact that they all get to play a variety of roles allows them to display their talents, and all are engaging throughout.
There are a number of standout scenes, but one of the most impactful is George Rae in a touching exchange with Dominic Hodson. Portraying two elderly gentlemen who flirt with one another, it's handled delicately, and the two actors offer nuanced and warm performances.
They are well complemented by Laura Johnson, who generates many of the laughs, and Naomi Slights, who shines in a standout monologue about reacquainting herself with romance.
The play ultimately delivers a positive message about truly investing ourselves in our relationships, knowing that the pay-off will always outweigh the tougher times. It makes for an uplifting and entertaining evening that leaves you with a sense of hope.
Photo credit: Savannah Photographic