Charing Cross Theatre, London – until 20 July 2019
Adapted by Jeremy Sams from Didier van Cauwelaert’s original French libretto which was based on Le Passe-muraille (The Man Who Walked Through Walls), Amour is a fantasy musical set in 1950s post war Paris.
It tells the story of shy civil servant Dusoleil who works tirelessly whilst pining for a beautiful woman who lives near him. The woman, Isabelle, is unhappily married and treated like property by her husband, the local prosecutor.
One night, Dusoleil discovers he has the power to walk through walls. This special power allows him to secretly stand up to those who have wronged him, and to act as the French Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He becomes know as the mysterious Passepartout who captures the attention of the city and of Isabelle…
This is a sweet and bittersweet story which is delicately handled by director Hannah Chissick. The concept of Amour is intriguing and mystical, and the style of the music is chocolate box sweet, but unfortunately the plot itself does little to keep the audience enthralled.
It’s a slow build show, meaning that nothing really happens for the majority of the first act. The scene is set and the Parisian characters are introduced in a flurry of bikes and motion. The music by Michel Legrand invokes all things Paris and is performed very well by the tight knit ensemble but as a whole the show feels oddly paced and somewhat un-cohesive.
Individually the aspects are great. Rob Halliday’s atmospheric lighting is divinely whimsical and warm with a hint of magic mixed in; Matt Cole’s choreography is sharp and sweetly emotive and Adrian Gee’s sets and costumes do transport us to 50s Paris. Mention must also go to the band, led by Jordan Li-Smith who play fantastically and Andrew Johnson who mixes the sound perfectly so each line can be heard even when various counterpoints are happening.
The cast are a superb ensemble. Gary Tushaw leads as Dusoleil, giving a vocally strong and charming performance. Anna O’Byrne is beautiful and vocally divine as Isabelle, although the character herself is a little flat. Alasdair Harvey is suitably threatening as the prosecutor and Elissa Churchill gives a wonderfully strong, stand out performance. Claire Machin brings humour and energy and Keith Ramsay is the embodiment of Parisian charm as he floats around the stage providing delightful vocal tidbits. Alistair So and (at this performance) Jack Reitman contribute well individually and to the full ensemble.
This is a well performed, well staged and well lit production but it doesn’t make sparks fly. Amour is a refreshingly light production that has enough musical treats to entertain and has been well handled by the entire creative team, but overall is falls flat.
photo credit: Scott Rylander