Monday, 20 July 2015

Review: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Above the Arts

“Have you just lost your way?
‘Repressed confused or gay?’”

Just a quickie for this, a late-hours performance late in the run in a vilely hot tiny auditorium perched atop no-one’s favourite West End theatre. I hadn’t been Above the Arts before and I remain unconvinced that it is an essential addition to our theatres, especially in this heat. Fortunately, Kirk Jameson’s production of Jimmy Roberts and Joe DiPietro’s off-Broadway stalwart I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was good enough to almost take my mind off it.

With old Avenue Q friends Julie Atherton and Simon Lipkin joined by Gina Beck and Samuel Holmes, this is about as good as musical theatre casting gets, especially for a fringe production and the quality of this quartet smoothed over most of the weaknesses of the show. A revue-ish song cycle type of thing, it whips through a set of loosely connected vignettes about the various trials and tribulations between a man and a woman.

And it really is paper thin material, it is to cast and creatives’ collective credit that it becomes such a good showcase for their considerable skills. Atherton’s comic charm is beautifully served here, so too her soulfully expressive eyes; Beck’s powerful presence nails ‘Always A Bridesmaid’ plus her Jewish widow picking up men at funerals ain’t too shabby either; Holmes hits a home run with his nerdish set of guys; and Lipkin – swoon – remains an unpredictable delight, thoroughly watchable whatever he does.

Scott Morgan’s musical direction benefits from the intimacy, the harmonies a scintillating thrill, but though Jameson’s direction and Sam Spencer-Lane’ choreography works as well it can in the space, it is frankly ridiculous that somewhere so small can such restricted views (no rake) – I’ll be sure to choose my seat much more carefully next time (who am I kidding, I never arrive early enough to beat unreserved seating!)

Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Booking until 18th July

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