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I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

Samuel Holmes in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. Photo: Piers Foley Samuel Holmes in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. Photo: Piers Foley

The wittiest thing in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is the title; and though it’s long-winded, the show isn’t. In fact, it’s a short, snappy and occasionally sassy (if not not always sharp) collection of sketches and songs around dating and relationships. It’s been kicking around for nearly 20 years now, and is produced endlessly all around the world (no Edinburgh Fringe is complete without at least one production).

But although its original New York run from 1996 to 2008 clocked up an astonishing 5,003 performances to become the second longest-running musical in Off-Broadway history (behind The Fantasticks), it has never had a truly successful London outing. A West End production in 1999 ran for less than two months. But its latest fringe incarnation, with a luxury West End cast, provides a smart, slick and engaging account.

It wasn’t just the oppressive heat in the bar-room setting of the Above the Arts that had Simon Lipkin take his shirt off (twice) in the show, nor the only thing that made it so watchable. Lipkin brings a genuine charm and sense of comic spontaneity to this series of spins on romantic encounters, including a novel version of speed dating in which he and Gina Beck race through their first date to post-break-up meeting in a single scene. Beck’s lovely soprano is heard to good effect on the otherwise mostly ineffectual songs.

They are joined by the wonderful Julie Atherton and Samuel Holmes, who also bring great voices and smart comic choices to their scenes. All credit to director Kirk Jameson for bringing pace and point to the proceedings.

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The venue is hotter and steamier than the material, but the superb actors make it sizzle as much as possible