I Love You Because

Unity Theatre
12th – 15th February 2013

Reviewed by Jennifer Keegan

I Love You Because was billed as a modern day Pride and Prejudice, though anyone expecting that would have been disappointed - apart from the characters names there was little to connect this play with the great work of Jane Austen. That aside, I Love You Because did not need to be sold by likening it to Pride and Prejudice - cleverly written it held its own as a modern and realistic musical about finding love and having the guts to take that leap of faith and give a new relationship a chance. Based in New York, the play follows six young people attempting to reconcile the ideal idea of love they hold in their minds with the reality of love happening to them.

The characters are easy to invest in, likeable and attainable; they are real enough for the audience to care about what happens to them. Austin Bennett played by Phil Teles Amaro, plays the hapless greetings card writer who is so wrapped up in the carefully planned life he thought he was going to have with his ex-girlfriend he cannot see that a love he never saw is happening for him with his new friend Marcy Fitzwilliams. Marcy, played by Lucy Mulvihill, a photographer who likes life to surprise her- she never orders the same coffee twice never mind planning years in advance and cannot believe she is falling for the ever careful Austin. Marcy’s friend Diana Bingley, played by Katie Louise Jones, claims to know exactly what she needs and wants out of a man, she is no fool and knows how to play the game, but finds herself lost when she falls for Austin’s brother Jeff Bennett. Jeff, played by Stuart Crowther, is a carefree, vacant, romance-free zone whose only need from a woman is sex. He struggles to let Diana into his life as anything past the ‘friends with benefits’ phase scares him.

With a live band on the stage and a wonderfully written score, this musical really shines. Phil Teles Amaro really carries the story with his character Austin; he has that hopeful romantic appeal that played right into the timing of the play at Valentine’s Day. Lucy Mulvihill has a beautiful voice and it was here that her talent really stood out. Katie Louise Jones had the misfortune of mic issues, as I was sat near the front I was lucky to grasp some of what I think would have been her defining song as she sang about the maths in relationships, those at the back missed a funny and witty performance. The stand out performance for me was Stuart Crowther; his portrayal of the vacant Jeff was superb, the cheeky rogue captivated the audience with his wonderful performance. With all the characters’ faults and misgivings it would be easy to over look the unnamed bar tenders in the show, played by Peter Fendall and Zoe Evans, while Fendall may have faltered enough to make him seem uncomfortable, Evans’ vocal was amazing. She may be somewhat wasted in the unnamed role, but fortunately her vocal made sure she was seen.

I Love You Because was an enjoyable musical, perfect for a Valentine’s date, a reminder that it should not be in spite of our lovers’ faults that we love them, but because of them, and when better to remember that than on Valentine’s Day.

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