ArtSpoken & Reviews

I Love You. You're Perfect, Now Change

Jennifer de Klerk
08/20/2016 09:54:38

Jennifer de Klerk: Where on earth did this production find a dial-up telephone on a cord? Sorry to start with trivia, but it sums up what I feel about the show.

Of course, you can’t go far wrong with a show about relationships, “Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit,” as the tagline goes.

Whatever the year, the horrors of dating, the nerves of the marriage day, the trials of parenthood and the approach of old age beset us all – we simply use different tools to do it.

This musical revue was first staged Off-Broadway in 1996, 20 years ago, and ran until 2008 – 12 years - making it the second longest running Off-Broadway musical. It has been performed around the world.

It’s a simple production to stage and tour, requiring a smallish theatre - Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre was perfect - four very talented singers who can also act, and, in this case, a keyboard and violin.

Oh, yes, at least four plastic chairs and a sofa.

Basically it follows the progress of fairly typical relationships as single boys and girls attempt to hook up, hoping that at this date they might hit gold, but usually ending up with … ouch! It seems there’s a “Drought of Single Men”.

The men in this show seem to have only one thing on their minds, at least when with women. Of course, that could be true.

The music sounded a bit dated to my ear, but the vignettes are pertinent and funny, diving perceptively into these tricky waters. It’s not all desperation as two nerds discover something in common, proving every pot has a lid, and a date actually phones a girl back when he said he would, an occasion of equal rapture and amazement.

Of course today they would be WhatsApp-ing before he left the front door.

The second half is devoted to the after-party when rings are finally exchanged and a couple embark on their hopefully romantic trip into the sunset.

Again, these days, not everybody bothers about a ring.

Babies, disappointed prospective in-laws, unhappy husbands who prefer their car – never trust a petrolhead – the inevitable divorces and, refreshingly, a husband who still loves his wife after many years together. It can happen.

The four talented South African singers, all with impressive credits in big musicals, are Neels Clasen, with an infectious grin, who hails from TV, film and stage, straight drama and musicals such as Mamma Mia and Rent.

His partner in testosterone crime is Brandon Lindsay, who manages both nerds and studs with equal ease. His credits include Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express and a number of the popular annual pantomimes.

The girls, who naturally are in command, are Claire Taylor, both sweet and sassy, with musicals like The Sound of Music and Sunset Boulevard in her CV, and Taryn-Lee Hudson, who makes the most of the horrendous accent she perfected in Singin’ in the Rain playing the mother-in-law from hell and “Always a bridesmaid and never a bride”. Although funny, at times she gets a bit shrill and I couldn’t pick up all the words. Needless to say she can also belt out tunefully with the best of them.

This was, of course, an American show originally and they have stuck to that, with the usual rather ersatz American accents. It’s a pity, although they might have been constrained by copyright issues, although I see an Australian company did the show with Australian accents and references a few years ago. It would have been nice to have it fully South African.

Still this is a cheerful night out and the situations will definitely strike a chord or two. We’ve all sweated through most of them, good and bad. As a final note, the audience loved it. That always counts!

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was written by Joe DiPietro with music by Jimmy Roberts. It is directed here by Elizma Badenhorst.  It’s at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre until September 4.
 

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of Artslink.co.za

 
Related Venue:
Montecasino Complex, Fourways Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa