Touring– reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London
The cult French film Amélie has been on a long journey to get to the UK and it’s finally set down here for a shortbread-box-sweet tour which captures the whimsy and delight of the film wonderfully.
Audrey Brisson plays Amélie the girl who grew up unloved but came to have a heart of gold as she sweetens the lives of others among the Paris streets. A host of characters surround her as bar staff, neighbours, customers and strangers. They also double as bohemian musicians, an element which really brings the show to life and adds to the floaty feeling of it all.
Elliot Griggs’ sepia toned lighting drenches the stage fantastically to create an intimate feeling. Madeleine Girling’s set featuring a metro station, a photo booth and two worn pianos, doesn’t change but rearranges to create the various atmospheres of the show. Amélie’s bedroom is a lampshade lift up and perfectly sums up the sweet life she leads. When Amélie spots Nino (Danny Mac) at the train station, he soon becomes a focal point of romantic attention and the set almost seems to move around him at times. The combination of set, costumes, puppets and lighting all work together in a seamless fashion to bring the surreal imaginative aspects of the show to life.
Daniel Messé’s music is fluent and catchy as we are transported around Paris, with ‘Times Are Hard For Dreamers’ and ‘Stay’, providing the most memorable moments. Craig Lucas’ book is somewhat wacky with gnomes and figs that come to life, but the fantastical element of it all is very enticing. Whilst there is a good flow to most of the show, it does feel just a tad too long, some splicing here and there would add shine to the gem it is.
Brisson’s beguiling interpretation of the lead character is truly what makes this show special. Her sublime voice and outstanding characterisation make her an ideal lead who enchants from start to finish. Danny Mac is suitably enigmatic and provides some swooping vocal moments. The ensemble throughout are masterful at what they do and this team production really does warm the heart.
This effective musical uses nuance, silence and soaring sound in equal measure as it tells a heart warming tale. For a sweet, whimsical night out, Amélie is certainly one to catch.