The 2001 film Amélie is the tale of a lonely girl who brings happiness to the lives of others by doing good deeds. It has a whimsical, fairytale quality which sweeps audience members away in its magic for a couple of hours. And this is exactly the atmosphere replicated at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh this week!
This adaptation of the film premiered in Newbury in April, the same week that Notre Dame cathedral, which features in a scene in the musical, went up in catastrophic flames. As the show is entirely set in Paris, it uses a mixture of English and French. The characters speak in French accents throughout the entirety of the show. The aesthetic that is created throughout the musical is very true to a common vision of the French capital, still without succumbing to clichés. It creates a wonderful setting for this whimsical tale.
As a girl, Amélie is brought up in an eccentric household with parents who believe that her heart is in danger, so they keep her at home where she is safe. Her mother dies early on and her bereaved father builds a shrine to his late wife in the form of a garden gnome that becomes the centre of his world, leaving Amélie to her own devices.
She leaves her home and finds work in a café with a group of misfit Parisians who become her extended family, although she is still scared of true human connection due to her childhood. When she discovers a box of childhood treasures underneath her floorboards, she decides that she must reunite this box with its owner. From there on out, making strangers happy becomes her sole mission.
Audrey Brisson as Amélie brings an innocent charm and sweetness to the role. Her beautiful soprano voice carries the show very strongly. The ensemble consist of an excellent cast of actor-musicians who play a variety of instruments that create the folk instrumentals of the score and create a valuable atmosphere in the show.
The show is wonderful. From its epically talented cast, to the atmosphere created by the set and staging, it makes the audience believe that they truly could be in Paris. The only negative aspect I found was that the audience may be a little confused if they have never seen the film before, as some parts of Amélie’s brain are truly bizarre!
PHOTOS: Pamela Raith