Theatre Review: I Love You Because

After the success of Sister Act, goes to check out CHMS’ smaller Spring production

 

I Love You Because banner

I Love You Because is described as a modern twist on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; two couples learn to love each other not in spite of their faults, but because of them. The actual similarity to Austen’s novel just about ends there, apart from hijacking names such as ‘Marcy Fitzwilliams’ and ‘Austin Bennet’! Set in New

York City, the costume design seemingly places it in the 90s with an assortment of multicoloured furniture to boot. The recycling of the unicorn pyjamas from Sister Act particularly brought a smile to my face. Performed in the Dixon Drama Studio, CHMS’ production of Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham’s musical had impressive use of lighting to highlight and accentuate the action and emotion. This was particularly admirable within such a theatre where previous productions have fallen short in this respect. Praise must go to the Technical Theatre Society and Jan Li Tan as Technical Director.

Praise must go to the Technical Theatre Society and Jan Li Tan as Technical Director.

As the entire cast entered for Another Saturday Night in New York, the ensemble’s singing prowess was clear. The ensemble numbers consistently delivered a balanced and electric wave of sound which filled the room. The dialogue was at times lagging in pace and comedic repetition posed some difficulty, however the cast settled into the show as it progressed. It was a shame that some lines were audibly lost by a few of the lead cast members as they were directed to the back of the stage. This was often due to the set design which could have been better executed. Three separate areas for action to take place meant the stage was over-filled with four tables, couches, benches and chairs leading to a busy aesthetic. The cast coped well with this yet the placement of these areas was responsible for some lines being lost; certain locations in the musical involved the cast consistency facing away from the audience. Nevertheless, the acting was confident and suitably hyperbolic.

Rosie Pudney’s portrayal of Marcy deserves high praise.

Rosie Pudney’s portrayal of Marcy deserves high praise. Slightly erratic and quirky movements giving a sense of contained energy conveyed the hippiness of her character which the other characters perceive. Both of the lead females presented a more naturalistic portrayal of characters where the males delivered more heightened stereotypical comedic roles. Ellen Garbutt as Diana was captivating and showed a high level of control that made her the most impressive performer on stage. The projection was never an issue for this character whose dialogue and singing were presented clearly and most admirably in We’re Just Friends. Duets between the couples raised some problems as their male counterparts lacked the projection to match them.

Fergus Piper as Austin Bennet held the audience’s eye as a slightly bumbling and socially awkward greetings card writer who comes out of his shell of false romance under the guidance of Marcy. But I Don’t Want to Talk About Her was delivered by Fergus with such honesty that this hyper-enhanced role became believable. There were moments of real comedy gold which demand to be seen, the second example being Rory Hutchison as the blokey Jeff, making hilarious attempts with Diana to position themselves for sex whilst having back cramp. Although some vocal uncertainties were encountered by the males in the cast, their acting skills compensated and the overall impression was a success.

No less important were the multi-rolers whose comedic commitment and easy movement proved some of the highlights of the show. Alone featuring the multi-rolers with Marcy and Diana proved to be one of the best numbers in the show. Once again, the females were notably strong: Becca Storey’s lines were natural and delivered with fantastic timing alongside Anna Hale’s knowing interjections. What Do We Do It For proved to be the highlight of the show. The constant baristas and running theme of coffee was an interesting commentary on the human love complex!


7/10

I Love You Because continues to run until this Friday night. For more information, visit Central Hall Musical Society on Facebook.

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