Pros: Entertaining in parts with pretty good performing and stage direction.
Cons: A fairly flat storyline that lacked originality, plus there were some sound issues.
I’m sorry to say, I’m single. Sometimes when I’m feeling low, I go to bridal shops and try on the wedding dresses, just so I can imagine the time when I’ll be wearing one of those amazing garments on my special day. Sadly, I don’t think that time will ever come. Because I’m a man. The characters of I Love You Because, Pinot Productions’ latest musical, found the world of Singletonia equally depressing.
Set in New York, the story centres on unlucky-in-love strangers Austin and Marcy. Both have recently split from long-term partners and are now under the auspices of their respective – and opinionated – best friends Jeff and Diana. Austin and Marcy are encouraged to get over their heartbreak by using that great invention of humanity: casual sex. Reluctant at first, but with Jeff and Diana as their wing-people, they finally cave in. Then, when Jeff and Diana arrange a double date through a dating website, the four of them are thrown together for the first time.
Four young professionals: one serious guy, his semi-literate clumsy brother; one spontaneous girl, her stiff and rule-abiding bezzie… You could almost substitute the names Austin, Jeff, Marcy and Diana for Ross, Joey, Rachel and Monica. Indeed, with the New York setting and with much of the action taking place in coffee shops and bars, you could be forgiven for thinking this was Friends the Musical. (For anyone who hasn’t seen Friends, it’s about a bunch of girls and guys who abuse their neighbours/strangers/potential dates and spend the rest of their time jumping around in fountains – at least that’s how I remember it).
It’s fair to say then that this musical hardly broke any boundaries. But then again, I don’t think the target audience was hoping for musical versions of Requiem For A Dream or Brokeback Mountain (although the latter would be a riot!). The story was engaging, had some predictable twists and turns, and was all tied together neatly at the end. And the use of fruity language and some genuinely funny innuendos gave it an edge over its cat-song-loving TV ancestor (In Friends there is a song about a cat. That everyone bangs on about).
I still think even the most ardent musical/romance fan might find this show a touch on the bland side. For example, when all was lost and the characters fell out at one point, you didn’t really believe their contempt for one another, mainly because there wasn’t much time reserved in the writing for the relationship to grow (the scenes were too spread out in time). What’s more, you could see everything happening a mile off without there being any real surprise to proceedings – since I could predict the outcome, for me it was a case of waiting for the next admirably performed number in order to keep me entertained.
And the songs were indeed performed admirably by the six-strong cast, with snappy choreography and pleasant harmonies. I must say though, I found that the band was too loud and would often drown out the singers, making it hard for me to hear them (I was sitting near the front and I recently cleaned my ears out. Oops too much info.) There may have been some issue with the speakers, as there was crackling towards the end, but these kind of problems should be sorted well in advance.
All in all, I Love You Because is an ok show that’s definitely aiming for the Valentine’s Day market. If you like cheesy music, flirting over coffee and all-American smiles – or if you’ve seen Mamma Mia 2000 times – then it should definitely be worth your visit.
Music: Joshua Salzman
Lyrics: Ryan Cunningham
Orchestrations: Larry Hochman
Director: Dom O’Hanlon
Musical Director: Sarah Burrell
Producer: Saratha Rajeswaran for Pinot Productions
Booking Until: 8th February 2014
Box Office: 0207 387 6617
Booking Link: ticketsource.co.uk/pinotproductions