Amélie at the Criterion Theatre.
Leading the vanguard of returning shows after one of London theatre’s darkest years ever comes Amélie, an unashamedly whimsical musical adaption of the eponymous 2001 cult classic. If you’re looking for a lively and incredibly fun show, this is just the ticket.
Set in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris in the eighties and nineties, we follow the story of a woman from her solitary childhood to her awkward adulthood working in a café. She ponders the ineffable — “how many couples are having an orgasm right now?” — while spending her days trying to “solve” the lives of those around her, and her nights huddled over her TV obsessing over Princess Diana. Devoid of cynicism and peppered with supremely silly and sad moments, Amélie’s tale is very welcome escapism.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film was remarkable if only for its visual flair, quirky characters and Audrey Tatou’s winningly winsome heroine — played here by Audrey Brisson. Michael Fentiman’s production at the Criterion Theatre never quite hits the same heights but thanks to its imaginative staging and memorable numbers, still makes a mark.
There may be only one name in the title but this is an ensemble musical with around a dozen actors and musicians cavorting on the stage. They fiddle, they strum, they tickle the ivories — and they give the often weak and occasionally bleak storyline some serious heft, especially in the more sprightly first half. Amélie aside, the characters are superficial versions of their cinematic equivalents, but the music and lyrics from Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen are uplifting and engaging enough to be truly moving in parts. Whether you have seen the original film or not, this is a show which will put a laugh on your lips, and maybe a twinkle and a tear in your eyes.
Amélie is at the Criterion Theatre till 25 September, 2021.
Last Updated 07 June 2021