Sunday, May 1, 2016

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Please note: Suomen Komediateatteri invited me to watch this show for free.

I think I'll start this review with a personal note: I am not, have ever been, or have ever wanted to be in a traditional romantic relationship. So you might think a relationship musical is totally not up my alley. I however wanted to see Suomen Komediateatteri's new production I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Käyttöohje kahdelle) – because I simply wanted to see some musical and it happens to be running right now, and because it stars Riku Nieminen, who left a huge impression on me in an earlier musical production.

With all that in mind, I had a good enough time.

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a musical about men, women and romance. It's a series of sketches and songs with different characters and situations that are tied together by common themes. The first act deals with dating and getting married, while the second act tackles commitment, children, divorce and finding a new love after loss.

I have seen this musical once before. Both productions have been directed by Samuel Harjanne, but I remember Skärgårdsteatern's 2014 version (link is Finnish only) being a bit livelier and more over-the-top than this new one. Suomen Komediateatteri's take of the show, staged in a nightclub-turned-theatre, is very sleek and neat – but as such, almost too polished for my tastes.

The musical is performed by Kaisa Hela, Ushma Karnani, Riku Nieminen and Heikki Ranta. Everyone does a good job portraying a varied cast of characters, but personally, I enjoyed Hela's style of comedy the best. Though really, pianist Risto Kupiainen and violinist Lotta-Maria Pitkänen nearly stole the show for me. The music, while not especially memorable, is played to perfection!

Seeing the musical for the second time, I had time to ponder the script. I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change premiered Off-Broadway in 1996. I think its age is starting to show. There is nothing insulting in the skits, and I suppose many audience members can recognise themselves and their partners in the scenes. But even so... Some of the attitudes are starting to feel outdated, no matter what. Girls like boys, boys like girls, women love to shop and men adore sports and cars. Hmm. Not so sure about all that.

I think the musical is at its best when it points out the absurdity of these old stereotypes. The men's hilarious macho man duet Why? 'Cause I'm a Guy was maybe my number one favourite, delivered with a perfect over-the-top-with-tongue-in-cheek attitude and thus reminding us how laughable it is to think there is only one correct way to be a man (or a woman).

The show's final scenes are surprisingly sombre, but I enjoyed the darker shades too. Ranta's thoughtful solo Shouldn't I Be Less in Love With You (sung to his character's sleeping husband – a nice detail in the musical's heterocentric universe) is the most beautiful song of the musical. I also liked Nieminen's old gentleman looking for love in between funerals.

The show left me wondering how strongly your choice of seats can affect your experience. I shared a lodge with only three other people while most of the audience sat together in stalls. It feels awkward to laugh out loud if everyone else in your little lodge is silent, even if the people in the stalls are howling – so I wonder if the show would have felt a little funnier from a different seat.

All in all, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a fun musical and a good choice for a club setting. Still, I can't help hoping the world will soon be ready for a musical about relationships where the stereotypical heterosexual couple is no longer the standard. While looking forward to that, though, maybe check out this one.

Photos by Matti Rajala.
Lue myös Linnean, Merin ja Tallen mietteet esityksestä. Tykkäsivät!

1 comment:

  1. Strongly agree about the heterocentric pov, I was so happy that they had some variation in Shouldn't I Be Less In Love With You. Also Hela had good comedic timing and managed to also be tragic in a great way. Neat and entertaining enough, but indeed maybe too polished?