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REVIEW: Amélie: The Musical showcases 'je ne sais quoi' as show based on Jean-Pierre Jeunet's five-time Oscar-nominated movie lights up stage at Eden Court, Inverness


By Kyle Walker


REVIEW

Amélie: The Musical

Eden Court, Inverness

*****

AS one of those uncultured, boorish philistines who has yet to experience the delights of the much-heralded French film Amélie, I have to admit I was nervous before experiencing this stage adaptation.

So much for nerves – this musical adaptation was a sumptuous, luxurious rush of romance and whimsy with lashings of je ne sais quoi to stir something magical within the senses.

Amélie Poulain herself – the shy waitress in self-isolation who decides to help people change their lives for the better – is brought to life brilliantly by Audrey Brisson. She plays Amélie as stiff, purposeful, and yet always vulnerable as she hatches her plans.

And Danny Mac brings a shuffling realism far removed from the poise of his Strictly showcases in his performance as love interest Nino Quincampoix – meek but not maladroit.

Their slow, tentative, nervous steps towards romance – Amélie’s fear of risking heartbreak leads her to go to extremes to not meet Nino face to face – is set against a backdrop of other characters and their stories weaving in and out of the narrative like competing fairytales.

Fairytale is the optimum word – Amélie is a fantasy, but a beautiful, at times gloriously ridiculous one. This is a musical where an angelic Elton John serenades Amélie as the “godmother of the beloved” during a daydream, where a garden gnome containing her mother’s ashes can sing a song of the places it has travelled, and where a grumpy grocer can be suddenly menaced by three nightmarish anthropomorphised figs.

Brought to life by a live score played by an exemplary cast, even its music is different from the typical musical affair. The usual keyboards and orchestral tones are not found here, the music instead invoking French folk sublimely.

The music rarely lets up, carrying you along and never letting you snap out of Amélie’s world. The one time it is truly silent is when she and Nino finally meet.

Stripped of worries and fears, as the two finally kiss, you could have heard a pin drop. You could certainly hear the barely-stifled sob that bounced off the walls of the Empire theatre.

J’ai adoré Amélie et vous aussi! KW



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