Amour at Charing Cross Theatre
Amour is a quirky and delicate musical by Michel Legrand which tells of Dusoleil, a man who discovers his ability to walk through walls and uses his new found power to try to help the people of France and his one love, Isabelle in particular. Despite winning Tony awards it only ran for a few weeks on Broadway following awful reviews.
This sung through show is beautifully directed and produced with the show just oozing the sense of stereotypical 1950’s Paris. Amour is played out beneath twinkling lights and a lamppost, the cast frequently enter on bicycles and director Hannah Chissick uses simple props such as suitcases, chairs, balloons and candelabras to create a variety of set pieces including a long dining room table. These details often help keep my interest and intrigue more than the plot which at times can be predictable or slightly drag.
The style of music echoes this quirky and delicate feel. The band, headed up by Jordan Li-Smith , is made up of keys, 3 reed, double bass and percussion. This choice of instruments help the nostalgic feel. The sound design by Andrew Johnson and the balance between the band and singers was also spot on, no mean feat considering that it was not staged in a traditional proscenium setting.
The music is varied from comedic duos to romantic ballads but there were no big showstoppers. Admittedly this would not have worked with the delicate feel that Amour created but it would have been nice to have left humming a tune or two. The lyrics are however often very witty and caused laughter at moments I was least expecting it.
The cast themselves suited the piece, Anna O’Byrne was the caged Isabelle who drew resemblances for me with Johanna in Sweeny Todd whose singing voice soars in this intimate venue. Gary Tushaw played Dusoleil and he captured the awkwardness of the character brilliantly although I did struggle to feel for him or really understand just what I was supposed to be feeling for him
I also however enjoyed many of the ensemble characters, for example Elissa Churchill switched from a colleague and admirer of Dusoleil to a nun and Claire Machin from a colleague and admirer to a whore. The inclusion of stereotypical characters such as Policemen, nuns, whores and Doctors gave the show plenty of room for fun around the story.
This delicate feel and sound to Amour means it is perfectly suited for a venue like Charing Cross Theatre. The lack of emotional engagement in the main character and the slightly simple story was just about balanced off by the aesthetics and delicate vibe Amour managed to create.
Amour is playing at the Charing Cross Theatre until 20th July. For more information visit their website.