Tag Archives: George Rae

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change


Chiswick Playhouse

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Chiswick Playhouse

Reviewed – 5th November 2019



“All the actors deliver stellar performance and vocal work, and there is a real sense of ensemble chemistry between them which is a joy to behold”


I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a musical about relationships which, yes, sounds as generic and cliché as they come. However, those initial preconceptions are swiftly blasted away as the sheer quality of the skill and craft involved with the writing and production elevates this to a level of entertainment that leaves you consistently surprised and delighted.

Originally debuting in 1996 and becoming the second longest-running off-Broadway musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change saw extensive rewrites in 2017 from its writer Joe DiPietro and composer Jimmy Roberts. Despite certain songs and cultural references being updated, the concept of the show has remained unchanged: that of a series of musical vignettes that all centre around the themes of love and relationships. Although the characters and stories in each vignette are unconnected, together they form a trajectory through a relationship, from its beginning to its end. The ways in which the first two thirds of the show build up the exploration of its core ideas is fantastic, although the somewhat rushed and less interrogative final third makes for an underwhelming end.

That said, the contexts that DiPietro’s script has devised for each of these episodes are excellent, depicting relatable situations and feelings surrounding first date anxieties, pre-wedding meltdowns, and child-raising exhaustions. The dialogue preambling the songs is snappy and characterful, and the lyrics are clever, quippy, and punchy. Roberts’ score also keeps the texture of each scene feeling different to the last by dipping into a variety of styles, from rap to bee-bop, although this felt at odds with the piano-only accompaniment from musical director Stuart Pedlar.

Highlights of the show include ‘Better Things to Do’, where two men (George Rae and Dominic Hodson) on a first date decide to pretend they’re much further along in the relationship to avoid awkwardness; ‘Tear Jerk’, where Hodson desperately tries to gauge the right way to react to the chick flick his date (Laura Johnson) has opted to see with him; and ‘Marriage Tango’, in which Rae and his wife (Naomi Slights) precariously juggle looking after their children with their sex life. All the actors deliver stellar performance and vocal work, and there is a real sense of ensemble chemistry between them which is a joy to behold, although Hodson must be singled out for bringing an expert level of comedy to every character he portrays, from vindictive vicar to flirtatious funeral-goer.

Charlotte Westenra’s direction, along with Steven Harris’ choreography and Verity Johnson’s design all work in harmony to keep the focus squarely on the stories being told without ever resorting to gimmicks or flashiness – a smart choice indeed, as many of the stories are well-worth hearing. They’re a comfort to our insecurities, an opportunity to poke fun at the intimate anxieties of others, and at times a poignant reflection on the ways we handle relationships. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change isn’t quite perfect, but exceptionally easy to love.


Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Savannah Photographic


I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Chiswick Playhouse until 30th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Sophie, Ben, and Other Problems | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sirens of the Silver Screen | ★★★ | June 2018
Sexy Laundry | ★★★ | November 2018
Carl’s Story | ★★★★ | March 2019
Harper Regan | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Importance Of Being Earnest | ★★★★ | June 2019
Type On Paper | ★★★★ | July 2019


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The Frogs

Jermyn Street Theatre

Opening Night – 16 March 2017


“A pleasant show with a sprinkle of webfooted wickedness “


This version of The Frogs, loosely based on a comedy written in 405 BC by Aristophanes, is the UK premiere of the latest Broadway version of Sondheim’s rarely performed musical. It’s original adaptation by Burt Shevelove took place in a swimming pool at Yale University over 40 years ago. This version has been furthermore adapted by Nathan Lane bringing a modern feel to it.

Over the last forty years or so there have been a few attempts to revive the ‘rarely performed’ The Frogs, mostly with limited runs and often with very mixed reviews. Shows become ‘rarely performed’ for many reasons; they go out of fashion, they’ve not done well in the past, they’re too costly to produce or they’re just plain bad, so it was interesting to see what this sold out production would be like.

The show starts with a sparky little piece called  ‘Invocation and Instructions to the Audience’ – basically the do’s and don’t (‘mainly don’ts’ as the song says) the audience should adhere to. The first act continues with, as you’d expect from Sondheim, some good strong songs (excellent accompanying band too), and some rather fun and enjoyable scenes.

There are some clever one liners, such as Dionysos (Michael Matus) saying he only slayed Cerberus as ‘he’s more of a cat person’, and some ongoing Hell themed jokes, which do tire rather quickly. There’s only one main scene in which the frogs themselves make a big appearance, and they are a sinister looking bunch, I’d have liked to have seen more of.

The two leads, Michael Matus as Doinysos and George Rae as his slave,  Xanthias are both excellent throughout though Xianthias’ outfit did make him look a little like a monochrome version of Where’s Wally? Chris McGuigan as (mainly) Herakles was also very good – an actor to look out for in the future we think.

The first act is definitely a fun and enjoyable watch. The second act is less so. There seems to be few laughs and the plot gets somewhat tedious and overly long in places. There’s a contest in Hades featuring Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw, to decide who Dionysos should take back to the living world,  which drags on to the point where you’re willing Charon the boatman (played wonderfully by Jonathan Wadey) to push them all into the river Styx.

The set (Gregor Donnelly) for The Frogs is a little bit industrial looking but works rather nicely. The show itself features few props, those which are used work well, such as Herakles’ club made out of copper piping. Costume design consists mainly of black, what looks like gym wear, with occasional character costumes looking like they’re from the Ann Summers S&M collection.

A pleasant show, brought nicely up to date, with some sinister webfooted wickedness afoot – if only the second act had been as good as the first …


Production Photography by David Ovendon


The Frogs is at Jermyn Street Theatre until 8th April – the whole run is sold out – check directly with the theatre for returns.



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