For the entire first act of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change by Joe Depietro with music by Jimmy Roberts (dir. Wade Lynch), the audience was twisting and turning, and applauding and laughing and yawning… yes the guy at the end of the row was snoring. I brought a twenty something with me because I suspected I would be past looking objectively at a musical about couples and coupling. My companion had seen this play in Winnipeg and, in fact, said that it was a better production there. She noticed that the direction was a bit flawed and the set was a disco on steroids. We were sitting way over at stage left and very often had to stretch to see the action. The director seems to have blocked everything from centre stage, forgetting the seating arrangements of the Segal Centre.
The performers were really fine and worth the trip. But the desperateness of the female characters was really dated. Yes there’s a “single man drought” in the world but these characters were a little over the top. My companion noticed the people who were leaving at intermission.
Then something happened and the musical picked up. The very first dating video of Rose Ritz was truly well acted… and that was the key: acting. The first half didn’t have enough of it. Tringa Rexhepi was terrific. “Always a Bridesmaid” was a Country-Western tour de force and Stefi DiDomenicantonio really delivered, and as my companion noticed “she used the whole stage.” In the rest of the scenes, action was confined and rigidly kept in one tiny area after another. “Funerals Are For Dating” was a poignant number beautifully played and sung by Stefi DiDomenicantonio and Adrian Marchuk. Again, they utilized more of the performance area and that made it much more interesting. Will Lamond also sang beautifully and his performance as the married guy who yearns for married sex was notable.
The costumes were truly delightful and imaginative, but one suspects that the director was unclear about his intentions and the set was aggressive and boring. Deconstructed minimalism with disco overtones. If that sounds pretentious, you may want to go look at the set. The music direction by David Terriault was soundly professional, and the singing outstanding. The choreography was not interesting. There was an actual tango “The Marriage Tango” and they did not do a tango. Simply bewildering.
It was not a bad evening of theatre for an outdated slightly macho vision of couples and coupling. One wonders why we need a re-mount of a second rate off-Broadway play when there are so many great shows written in this country. I also wondered as I passed by Nadia Verducci in the audience, why the directors and actors are mostly out of town talent
The issues brought to light by this play are all still relevant, but the instant connections of techno-love and the bigger problems of choosing a life of hetero, homo, bi, trans, and/or some combination of the above are never even mentioned. This dates the play, which never actually comes up with an answer to “What is love?” and keeps meandering down the many cul de sacs of the journey to find it.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is at the Segal Centre (5170 ch. de la Cote Ste Catherine) until May 29. Tickets HERE.