Got back to the theatre last night – this time, with my friend Ty – for Soulpepper’s remount of Parfumerie (by Miklós László, adapted by Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins). I missed their original 2009 production, so was hell-bent on making it out this time. We took our chances on rush tix and made it in – standing room only! We didn’t care though – the play was thoroughly enchanting and our upright positions at the rear of the orchestra were like giving the show a non-stop standing ovation, which this cast deserved big time.
This is the play that inspired the movie You’ve Got Mail, among others, and is big on fun and poignancy. Rosie (Patricia Fagan) and George (Oliver Dennis) are store clerk co-workers who can’t stand each other, but are secretly – even to themselves – in love, in a relationship based on an anonymous exchange of letters. Fantastic performances from Fagan and Dennis, whose Rosie vs. George skirmishes are by turns touchingly hilarious and adorable. George has even bigger problems on his hands, as stressed out boss owner/manager Mr. Hammerschmidt (who, in Joseph Ziegler’s very capable hands is a complex combination of sharp businessman and injured human being) has it in for him. Rounding out the Parfumerie shop gang is Arpad the apprentice/delivery boy (played with cocky boyish energy by Jeff Lillico), worry wart den mother Mr. Sipos (Michael Simpson), ladies man/cad Mr. Kadash (Kevin Bundy), sexy dreamer Miss Ratz (Maev Beaty) and the quiet cashier Miss Molnar (Brenda Robins). As Patricia Fagan notes in the Artist Note in the show’s program, this collection of misfits is a workplace family. They fight, tease, nurture, look out for each other – and have their secret crushes.
Ken MacDonald’s set is gorgeous, all swirls and curves of dark wood and dusty pink – very feminine, very sexy, very period – and Ty noted that the curves of the wood trim invoke the image of people entwined. Live music is provided by gypsy-like musicians, played by Miranda Mulholland (violin) and Mike Ross (accordion), both doubling as shop patrons, and a good portion of the cast performs an a cappella Christmas carol near the end of the play.
Parfumerie is a perfect holiday-time play to see – and it runs at the Young Centre until December 31.
Check out some of the reviews – if you’re into that sort of thing: