Chiswick Playhouse, London – until 30 November 2019
Expectation can be a funny thing. A revival of Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’ musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was the choice to christen the newly renamed Chiswick Playhouse (the Tabard as was) but as I caught a version with a luxury cast and terrible venue choice a few years ago, I wasn’t hugely enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing the show again.
But Charlotte Westenra’s production emerges as a really rather lovely thing, benefitting from an updating that does a fantastic job of retooling the show for a contemporary audience. There may be those who roll their eyes but the incorporation of same sex storylines and stronger female voices, while still maintaining the integrity of the book, genuinely makes it all the more powerful.
The show takes the form of a revue covering all the highs and lows of love and romance from cradle to grave(side). And as such, can still feel a little slight in it entirety, with no substantive connection emerging in the material. But what we do get, is an emphasis on how universal these stories are – divorce and dating, lust and loneliness, no matter who you are, there’s much to recognise here.
And it is performed by a highly personable quartet. Dominic Hodson, Laura Johnson, George Rae and Naomi Slights all impress in their own way, often spinning from heartbreaking to hilarious on a dime and covering a bafflingly large array of regional accents. But the salutary lesson here is about how affecting and effective this kind of inclusionary adaptation is, nothing lost and so much gained.