11 May 2019 (released)
11 May 2019
It’s sad to think that Michel Legrand, who died in January of this year, didn’t get a chance to see his score shine in this pared back production of ‘Amour.’ Having scored more than two hundred films, been nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and won three Oscars, his Broadway debut of Amour in 2002 bombed after only two weeks. Now presented as a chamber piece at the Charing Cross Theatre, with a superb cast and six piece band, ‘Amour’ seems to have found its home.
Set in a distinctly romantic vision of post war Paris, the show opens with the obiquitous artist in a beret, sketching beneath a lamppost at the centre of the stage. Based on a 1941 short story, it follows the transformation of Dusoleil (Gary Tushaw) an ordinary office worker, in love with beautiful Isabelle who is imprisoned in her home by her nasty older husband. Luckily for her and the rest of Montmatre), Dusoleil discovers that he can walk through walks and the show takes a magical turn.
Jeremy San’s adaption of the original French is sharp and often rhythmically brilliant. If the smutty double entendres aren’t your thing, the witty lyrics provide some welcome surprises to the archetypal characters and light storyline. Claire Machin gives an irresistible performance as the friendly whore and Anna O’Byrne’s voice is transporting, even if her character doesn’t go far.
Adrian Gee’s elegant design is firmly rooted in film imagery of the period and the precise direction from Hannah Chissick sees the ensemble cast create scenery in a dance of constantly moving parts while the traverse staging keep us close to the action. The cast sing beautifully throughout this entrancing score which glides from swirling romantic melodies to rousing marches with a distinctly Gallic flavour. Although the story doesn’t dig very deep, Legrand’s score offers layers of magic to enjoy.