I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Comedy Theatre

Clichés are clichés because they re so often true. People immediately understand them because they recognise them either in their own lives or the lives of those around them. In that regard then, there is certainly something for everyone in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

This musical revue is so chock-full of clichés, there s room for little else on the stage. Literally. A pianist and violinist, making up the sum-total of the band, occupy a raised alcove and the rest of the set, save a brick warehouse facade as a backdrop, is bare. Miscellaneous furniture is wheeled on by the four-strong cast as they wend their way through a catalogue of relationship sketches from first date to wedding day, children, divorce and bereavement.

Yes, we can all identify with the single woman who endures the conversations of a boring man, the bridesmaid who s never a bride, the man who regrets letting his girlfriend pick the flick (a tear-jerker, of course), the young married couple who turn to goo when they have their first child. But identification alone doesn t lead to any greater insight. We ve seen and heard all this before and it doesn t get any funnier with constant retellings.

A few twists bring some refreshment, notably a spoof commercial which promotes legal action for lovers left unsatisfied in the bedroom (a story line that the writers of Ally McBeal will no doubt be cribbing in the not too distant future). And two numbers at the end - “Shouldn t I Be Less in Love with You?” where a husband marvels over his 20-year love for his wife, and “I Can Live With That” where a widow and widower strike up romance at a funeral parlour - achieve real poignancy. But these highlights are few and far between.

Which is not to say that I Love You... is an entirely unenjoyable evening out. The revue format ensures that it clips along and, while the tunes are hardly memorable, some of the lyrics are quite amusing. What really saves the evening, though, is a top-notch cast. Not only can Shona Lindsay, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Clive Carter and Russell Wilcox don passable American accents, they boast universally strong singing voices and bucketloads of enthusiasm. Thank goodness.

It s hard to understand how this show has run for four years in New York except to hark back to that age-old divide between American and British humour. I imagine this production will be most popular with tourists who haven t yet caught it Stateside.

Terri Paddock