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Wayfinding love in Repertory Philippines’ “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — From the first scene, when a woman who does not have the time or tolerance for her latecomer date and negotiates with him to skip the first date and fast-forward to the home run, Repertory Philippines establishes the hilarious virtuosity of I Love You. You’re Perfect. Now Change (I Love You from hereafter), written by Joe DiPietro, with music by Jimmy Roberts and directed by Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.

Think of one-shots and tropes in the realm of romance: the meet-cute, the confession, the movie date — the stuff of chick flicks but set to music, and an all-too-funny script set to the imagery of road junctions on the margins of the stage, making it stunning and visually arresting. As its prologue spells out, the show is about “different partners, same dance.”

Although not constrained to one narrative, I Love You had an incredibly structured flow; four actors interchanging roles in scenarios of dating, relationships, and marriage: sometimes a widower hitting on an elderly lady in a funeral (“I Can Live With That”), other times insecure singles in an awkward date (“A Stud and A Babe”). It’s in this context that the show explores the nature of love and acceptance.


Comedy is never an easy job but I Love You does not lose its grip on the audience’s attention and interest thanks to the direction of Menchu. Whether each scene calls for subtle or overt delivery, the response was not cheap laughs, but all hoots and roars. It’s not every day you get to see legal intervention and insurance for sexual dissatisfaction, match-making in prison, and long-term commitment in the heartfelt “Shouldn’t I Be Less In Love With You?”

“I knew that the characters had to be grounded in truth… Of the piece’s main premise, playwright Joe DiPrieto once said that it was a story of connection, or rather, attempts at meaningful connection,” the director said in a statement.

Between the fast-paced scenes and rich music, vulnerability is very much there one second and gone the next, before you know it, the punches kept coming. That is not to say that the story is thin, but actually harnesses the full characterization from Gabby Padilla, Krystal Kane, Marvin Ong, and Gian Magdangal. They regaled theater-goers with the vocal range, hyper-presence, and distinct chemistry in each pairing.

While being an easy watch, the execution of the entire production is not. The driving force is the talent of the cast but no one can watch the show and not commend the aspects of the production that are not on display. There is a brilliant precision to the movement, transitions, and stage direction. It takes the actors not even a minute to quick change in wardrobe and step into the shoes of their next character, all executed like seamless clockwork.

For a 28-year-old play, REP’s iteration is crisp and still reflective of the dating culture today. There is still intimacy in demonstrating that love isn’t always lofty but sometimes messy, anxiety-inducing, and imperfect. Who knew that break-ups, emotional baggage, and insecurities could be so entertaining?

Through the tiny doorway into relationships, we get glimpses resulting in laughter but in its aftermath, I Love You is a contemplation of how preferences, compromise, and desire affect views on love.

Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Annie Baker once explained on her writing process that she imagines theater as a room within a room. If this is the case, I Love You is a hall of doors with no reduction, no shrinkage, and no weak prospect — each one ajar with situations not just scratching the surface but symptomatic of the expectation to change for the sake of love. We take our cue from Shakespeare himself: Love is not love which alters it when alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is painfully swift with few remaining shows running until July 06, at the RCBC Theater in Makati.

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