I Love You Because
Paul Johnson | 18 Sep 2014 12:08pm
Photo: Michael Smith
Written by Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman, who met while undertaking a graduate programme at New York University in musical theatre writing, “I Love You Because” is as a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice. Set in New York City, it follows the loves and lives of four main protagonists; Marcy Fitzwilliam, Austin Bennett, his brother Jeff, and Marcy’s friend Diana Bingley (I see what they did there).
It’s not a show I have come across before, and I took with me a friend who confessed that she had never seen a musical, or indeed attended the theatre for many years. So, here I was with an unknown show and a theatre newbie. Yikes. No pressure then, SEDOS.
Happily, having seen a few of SEDOS past productions, I was pretty confident that we were in safe hands, and they did not disappoint. The show is an absolute delight of romantic misunderstandings and mishaps, before concluding with the inevitable resolution and happy ending that leaves a warm glow inside.
The Bridewell Theatre has become a favourite theatre space of mine; the raked seating provides good views of the stage wherever you sit, the sound is usually pretty spot on, the bar is reasonably priced for this part of London, and attended by friendly staff. The staging can be a little tricky for a director due to little to no wing space, no raised staging and having to tuck then band away on an upper level out of sight, but director and designer Robert J Stanex made excellent use of the space with some clever use of set and lighting.
The set itself is a mish mash of furniture found in most typical apartments; a kitchen area, a few armchairs and sofas, a dining table. Even though the main set itself does not actually change, through a few props, sound effects and lighting changes, the audience had no problem differentiating when the action had moved from one setting to another. This makes sure the pace stays fast and flowed effortlessly, with no awkward pauses while set is moved around. Being only the second show in, there were a few prop mishaps, and we were slightly delayed in starting due to a technical hitch, but these are minor flaws in an otherwise seamless production.
Anabelle Garcia as flighty photographer Marcy was an absolute joy; loveable, sweet, endearing. Joe Penny as love interest Austin was delightfully awkward as the straight laced, uptight antithesis to free spirited Marcy, but was a true romantic hero that melted the heart. Their interaction was lovely to watch, and there was some great chemistry between them, so the audience was entirely absorbed in their story and willing them to reconcile their differences and find true love with each other.
Matt Hudson as sweet buffoon Jeff, who has a slightly unhealthy relationship with video games, and Deborah Lean as the highly strung Diana who is convinced that the key to success in love can be found in complex mathematical equations, provided some nice comic moments as two “friends with benefits”, falling in love despite her vow to be wild and abandoned, and his fear of commitment. The scene where a night of passion descends into farce when Jeff puts his back out as Diana literally pounces on him was brilliantly staged and laugh-out-loud funny.
Andrew MacPherson and Ally Demicoli complete the ensemble, and to my mind, they had the most challenging task of all. Billed in the programme as “New York Man” and “New York Woman”, they were responsible for providing all the incidental characters, becoming in turn coffee shop baristas, world weary bar tenders, and surly Chinese restaurant owners, frequently popping up from behind the bar to provide advice and shots of tequila. This was indeed a strong cast with no weak link; all six turned in solid, heartfelt performances and all had strong voices that were easy on the ear and blended well together; congratulations to musical director Ryan Macaulay for such an excellent performance from all sides, not just the actors on stage, bualso in the tight band that was well balanced with the vocals.
Many congratulations to all involved; from the excellent performances on stage to the production team for their creation of such a slick, well produced piece. It is an excellent reminder that while Miss Austen’s stories are over two hundred years old, the themes resonate as strongly today as they did then.
If you have an opportunity to get down to see this show, Thursday’s show is promoted as “singles night”, while Friday night is “date night”. Love found in the audience as well as on stage? I think Jane Austen would like that.
Photo: Michael Smith
- : admin
- : 16/09/2014