I Love You Because is not exactly a masterpiece: its plot is fairly generic, its characters are not especially well-developed, and its songs are in places so similar that they cannot be discerned from one another. This said, it is a very endearing ‘guilty pleasure’ musical, and Pinot Productions’s version makes for a great evening of light entertainment.
Theatro Technis is a highly appropriate venue for a small show such as I Love You Because, and the show certainly benefits from the intimacy of this staging. The close view of the actors is helpful in allowing a low-budget show with a small cast to communicate its story, and Dom O’Hanlon’s direction uses this space well.
The set is very well-designed and adapts smartly to different locations. The ease with which set pieces such as a sofa and a table are moved into their different formations facilitates smooth transitions, which feel completely comfortable and natural to the audience, and it is heartening to see that direction has clearly taken scene changes into account. I initially questioned the use of crates to create background pieces, but this really grew on me, especially as the different elements of the set catch the light very well, as they shine directly downwards.
Although the characters are fairly two-dimensional, they are performed with dynamism that works well to propel the story forward. Holly Julier carries the show as Marcy Fitzwilliam, moving and speaking with buckets of bubbly energy that perfectly capture the dizzy airhead side of the character, but also stripping this back in emotional moments. Annie Kirkman as Diana is brilliantly opposed to Julier’s Marcy, stoic and calculating in the face of the unpredictability of love. Kirkman is probably the most consistent performer in the show and is very well-suited to the character. Josh Little and John Hicks as Austin and Jeff Bennett have great on-stage chemistry, and there is a real sense of friendly connection between the two actors as they perform together. All involved are talented actors cast in roles for which they are a good fit, meaning that the storytelling is highly engaging and believable.
Vocal performances are well-supported, seeming almost effortless throughout. Julier and Little are once again particularly outstanding: both have a natural flair for using vocal tone appropriate to their characters, and act through song convincingly. The band are also very competent and support the singers well, although I occasionally felt that they overpower the performers a little.
Unfortunately all of the great elements struggle to come together in the face of some truly terrible sound design, which at its lowest points completely distracted me from the acting and singing performances. Two characters went for the entire show without a microphone being switched on once, which meant that solos were entirely lost. Because of this, there were times when I felt more irritated than entertained. Occasionally I felt that more precise diction would have improved issues, however this was nothing in comparison with the travesty of the sound design as a whole.
On the whole this is a very well put-together show, with creative vision matching the writing style. One would assume that the issues with sound design were resolved in the performances following my seeing I Love You Because, which would mean that this is a highly enjoyable show and well worth seeing.
I Love You Because played at Theatro Technis until Saturday 8 February. For more information and tickets, see the Theatro Technis website.