Review and Thoughts: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! (Quest Theatre Ensemble)

Have you ever experienced the feeling of love in relation to (but not limited to): first dates, sex, marriage, parenthood, divorce, or death? If so, great. 1997’s Off-Broadway hit I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! tackles all of these things. Not interesting enough for you? Let me tell you a little bit about how Chicago’s Quest Theatre Ensemble brings it to life.

Firstly, the most notable thing about Quest Theatre Ensemble is that all of their productions are free. Seriously, no tricks. All. Productions. Are. Completely free. Although, at the end of the show, they do ask for give-what-you-can donations. Of course, you by no means are required to this. Because I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I donated $20. I’d recommend giving at least a small dollar amount out of courtesy, but in the end, it’s up to you. No one will force you to pay anything. For theatre lovers, this is incredibly brilliant. We’ve all heard it before: theatre is “elitist” or “for rich people”. This reputation mainly stems from the fact that theatre hasn’t been a traditionally accessible medium. We can all go to a movie theatre and see a film, go to the library and check out a book, but… where do you go for theatre? Quest Theatre Ensemble is aiming to be that place. In the words of a company member after the show, “Once you put a price on a ticket, you’re excluding a lot of people”. And he’s right. No one should be excluded from theatre, even due to price.

For a free show, the quality of Quest’s I Love You is far beyond what you might expect. Now, there are no crazy lighting effects or any local stars with top billing, but that’s the beauty of this production. With a young, twenty-something cast of four, a few chairs and two tables, the vignettes of many different characters in the midst of a struggling relationship are told. Not necessarily all romantic relationships, mind you. A husband only feels at peace and in control in his car, a new dad comes to terms with loving his son, a recently divorced woman learns to love herself again, etc. There’s a situation for everyone. Quest Theatre Ensemble’s version of the show chooses to change some lines and lyrics to fit the location and time period. The mention of fidget spinners, Tinder, Mariano’s, the movie “Frozen”, to name a few examples. This gave the show an added layer of personality, like it was meant just for me in this small little theatre in the basement of a tiny building in Andersonville.

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The environment was a huge factor in my enjoyment of this production, honestly. Think about it. It’s much easier to get sucked into an intimate, sometimes comedic, portrayal of how we view love throughout life in an intimate space rather than a large, 2,000 seat theater where you’re stuck in row J. The theatre for I Love You consisted of about 50 seats (seating is open), and I was lucky enough to snag a front row seat. A connection with the story and music is much more tangible when you can clearly see the emotion and mannerisms of the cast up close.

If you’re looking for a great way to spend two hours. I could not recommend Quest Theatre Ensemble’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Not Change! enough. Mainly because the shows that instill a great sense of magic in you don’t seem all that magical on the outside until you give them a chance.


Quest Theatre Ensemble’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! runs now until October 29th. Visit questensemble.org for more information.

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The Censorship of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening

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Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play Spring Awakening – which follows a group of young German teens who struggle through their newly discovered sexual feelings without any guidance from their parents, which proves to be fatal for some characters – was subject to censorship for practically a century. It was being banned from being performed in Germany until 1906. It did not receive its first English performance in the U.S. until 1917, to which the city’s Commissioner of Licenses threatened it with closure as he claimed it was too pornographic. Then in England in 1963, it was performed for two nights only under heavy censorship. Even the popular 2006 musical adaptation by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater  – whose staging includes partial nudity – eventually came out with a heavily edited school edition of the show that still causes controversy when it’s performed by colleges and even some high schools.

Due to its suggestive themes like rape, suicide, prostitution, homosexuality and abortion, many may agree with art being censored when it deals with subjects like this – especially when it’s through young characters like those in Spring Awakening. But, in my personal opinion, I believe that a play like Spring Awakening  should never be censored or edited. I can understand why these subjects could possibly be triggering or conflict with an audience member’s moral values. And I do think it’s important to keep performances of Spring Awakening marketed toward its target audience: teens and young adults. But obviously, not every audience member will find these themes as sensitive as some might. Because of this, I don’t feel that censorship does the play’s message any good.

The play’s events are meant to be a cautionary tale to its audience; it’s a story of what can go wrong when there is a lack of communication between parent and child. By censoring scenes that involve rape or violence, you’re doing exactly what the play warns against: being honest and upfront about the truth to children who are coming of age. The same can be said for editing, which is arguably even worse than simply censoring a rape scene versus taking it out altogether. It’s not the play’s responsibility to make you feel comfortable, it’s supposed to do the opposite. That is the genius behind Wedekind’s play, it forces you to step out of your bubble of safety and confront what makes you uncomfortable and consider it – and you how deal with it in your own life.

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John Gallagher Jr., Jonathan Groff (center), and Lea Michele in a scene from the 2006 musical adaption of Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening represents a worst case scenario – how the censoring of content that could be seen as offensive, suggestive, or controversial can kill, if it goes on for too long. While Spring Awakening is only one example of censorship in theatre, there are many others. And if censorship in theatre and other art forms continues, its negative effects on impressionable audiences could be felt sooner than we seemingly thought.


What do you think about the censorship of Spring Awakening or other similar works? Share with me in the comments!