I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – Sex and the Pity
I enjoy football. My husband does not. In fact, he could not be moved to give one single shit about any type of sport. I like gin. He likes milkshakes. My sister and I love watching gory horror movies. He enjoys cartoons. My father loves shopping, especially for shoes. My mother never did. My best friend has a Jewish mother. Said Jewish mother would much, much rather see her excel in her career than wander down the aisle with some fucking haircut. Do you know why these seemingly impossible things are so? Because I, and probably almost everyone else you know, are real people and not paper doll cutouts being played with by Nora Ephron. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change does not accommodate this radical idea. It has all of the subtle nuance of a Swiffer commercial. It was a fine production, don’t get me wrong, but the subject matter was about as modern as Millie. The tropes in this almost-a-revue style show with thinnest of a coat hanger of a plot were just a little too eye-rollingly stale for me to relate. Men Hang in Bars, Women Need a Penis. Dating is a heinous “back in the battle again” venture that necessitates wonder bras and plucking. Marriage kills all sex. People with babies turn into aliens. Are there some Heiglian truths hidden in here? Sure, probably. But this is 2015 and the directorial attempts (direction by David Jennings) to modernize this predictable song-and-dance were awkward at best. Facebook and video dating in the same show? Waiting by the phone? I mean, who even calls people on the phone anymore? Did someone die? All right, all right, you get it. Epic Productions is a new venture headed up by David Jennings and (as he rather adorably refers to her in his curtain speech) his “better half” Jamie Eacker. And, if this show is any indication, this shiz is ’bout to outgrow it’s humble back-room-of-a-restaurant beginning like a particularly fat koi. I can easily imagine Epic eventually running old lady Toby’s a merry little race. The actors are startlingly professional for this postage stamp of a “stage” they’ve got going here and they should be. Better bring your bells, ’cause these folks are riiiiiiiingers bused in from D.C. They all have pro resumes as long as my ego and it shows. They also have about a trillion teeth between the four of them, which flash as they sing and sing they do and even dance! And the choreography isn’t bad! Which is amazing, because, like a said, the floor space is as big as the restaurant’s bathroom. Tara Taylor has a beautiful smile and a gorge, mature voice. I thought she was ruefully great in the second act’s “Always a Bridesmaid” and she was also seriously, genuinely touching in “I Can Live With That”, an ode to love in the golden years. Michael Kenny has on-the-money comic timing and never failed to make me laugh, sometimes in spite of my misanthropic, kinda grumpy tendencies with this kind of thing. “Tear Jerk” was hysterical, his physical comedy (and yes, the speedo) in “Marriage Tango” was perf and he had sort of an Up! thing happening along with Taylor in “I Can Live With That” which was a good thing. Emily Levey has a great face and emotes like a champ (although sometimes it struck me a little awkward in such a small space that she was projecting over our heads as we sat two feet away from her – the perils of training in bigger houses, I suppose). I found myself really drawn to her, especially in the fantastically done and even a little poignant “The Very First Dating Video of Rose Ritz”. It seemed like John Dellaporta needed to warm-up a little more (and someone get that man a drink of water, plz) but once he got going, his Victorian visage, straight out of a Tim Burton stop-motion, was pretty damned funny, especially in Act One’s “The Stud and the Babe.” The music, played live on the mandolin and the keyboard, was stellar.
BOTTOM LINE: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is an aggressively heterosexual collection of paper-thin tropes and middle-class ennui thrown into a pretty, lily-white bag. But! But. Epic Productions pulls the show off with astonishing and encouraging aplomb. This isn’t my jam, but if it’s yours, you’re going to fucking love it. If you want to see where a famous company begins, you’ll see it here. I have nothing but good lucks for them.
Running at Epic Productions until February 15th
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