Theatre Review: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change a Show for a Different Time and City
CATCO’s newest production, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, attempts to conquer a laundry list of items regarding relationships. Billed as “everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit,” the show unfortunately, does not really do this, at least not to all people, if many.
The musical consists of vignettes revolving around dating, love, lust, and marriage. All remain independent of each other, but they create a basic arch akin to that of a real relationship. Thus, the show begins with a few nervous individuals frantically prepping for a first date, covers weddings and divorces, and ends with two elderly widows chatting about getting a cup of coffee.
I must admit, I find the script highly outdated, or rather, I am not the target audience. Let’s get intimate, I’ve never comprehended the panic-driven, best-foot-forward, tell a few lies attitude that many attribute to dating. I just don’t have time (and neither do you), so I personally found a lot of this show un-relatable. In fact, I believe all millennials will and many thirty-somethings might. For me, I find life much more efficient and fun if we all admit to and own the fact that we merely exist as awkward blobs of flesh. Once we get that weird acknowledgement out of the way, it seems easier to maintain a conversation and build a meaningful relationship. This may seem strange to some, but with that knowledge, here are a few things that do work in this script.
Two awkward people (played by Jeff Horst and Eli Brickey) attempt a first date meal and struggle to carry on any real conversation. They worry incessantly about their lack of charisma and lament over their lack of being a “stud” or a “babe.” They then realize that they do not need to meet these ridiculous physical trait ideals placed upon them; they can find happiness or companionship in the other awkward blob across the table from them. Brickey and Horst give a charming and heart-warming performance in this scene and with the song “A Stud and a Babe.”
The four person ensemble also creates a very funny scene in which an interfaith singles group meets in a prison and hears a talk from a convicted mass murderer (portrayed quite scarily by Kevin Ford) who commands that single people must lower their standards in order to get married. Krista Lively Stauffer is a riot as the emcee for the group.
Brickey gives a quirky, honest, and moving performance as Rose Ritz, a woman who makes a video for an online dating site six months after her husband left her. However, the finest scene of the show occurs when two elderly widows meet at a funeral and decide to grow closer as they live until the inevitable. Horst and Lively Stauffer create a sincere and heart-melting world in this scene and their song “I Can Live with That” is cuter than a blue blanket-lined basket of kittens.
Kudos to director Joe Bishara, the actors, and music director Matt Clemens for taking a mediocre script and making it palatable. The intermission though greatly hurts the show. The second act moves at a languid pace (which makes sense; the excitement of dating and proposals wanes as marriage settles in) which seems to bore the audience and perhaps the actors as well given their energy dropped significantly.
Despite some entertaining scenes and songs as well as diverse costumes by Marcia Hain and engaging lighting by DeAnna D’Egidio, the show suffers overall from its age. It is a product of its time (1996). People do not date the same anymore. People do not maintain the same goals. In a particularly upsetting moment, two parents chastise a couple for breaking up because she wants a career and he cannot commit. They cite immaturity as their inability to marry and become adults. Obviously, a full-out rant lies within my text, but I will save those syllables and merely comment that in 2014 women can endeavor a career and men can be mature and self-aware enough to know they cannot settle down. Life is not (well should not be) a race to get married and procreate. In 2014 in a major metropolitan area in America, we should know that. Also, in a city known for its diversity, this show seems far too centered on the plight of white, vanilla, hetero people. This just seems like an inappropriate show for this city; we can do better.
People may find it funny, but an equal number of people may find it boring, annoying, aggravating, or any other adjective of a similar vein. They may leave cherishing their relationships or pondering the meaning of love, but the show answers no questions and really poses none either. In the end, the only concept the audience really learns is that “condoms don’t even go with lasagna.”
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays until March 30, in Studio Three of the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street. Thurs-Sat. at 8 pm; Sun. at 2 pm. General Admission is $35.00. More information can be found online at CATCOistheatre.org.