Review Roundup: What Did The Critics Think of AMOUR at Charing Cross?
Amour runs at Charing Cross Theatre from Thursday 2 May - Saturday 20 July.
Gary Tushaw plays Dusoleil and Anna O'Byrne plays Isabelle. Alasdair Harvey plays the Prosecutor, Isabelle's controlling husband.
They are joined by Elissa Churchill (Elephant Steps, Arcola); Claire Machin (Memphis, The Pyjama Game, West End; Flowers For Mrs Harris, Chichester; Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre & UK tour); Keith Ramsay (The Cereal Cafe, The Other Palace; and a cabaret artist, Black Cat Cabaret at Crazy Coqs, Wilton's Music Hall and Spiegeltent at London Wonderground); Steven Serlin (The Wild Party, The Other Palace; Oklahoma!, Grange Park Opera; Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, West End); Alistair So (The King & I, West End; Jimmy Winter in Nice Work If You Can Get It, Upstairs At The Gatehouse); Daniel Stockton (Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys & Dolls, Kilworth House); with understudies Laura Barnard and Jack Reitman.
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Gary Naylor, BroadwayWorld: What is it that makes a night at the theatre truly magical? Sure it's a bit of this, a bit of that (and a huge amount of effort and skill of course), but mostly it's that indefinable transporting to another world. Not the violence and conflict of cinema's CGI-ridden blockbuster alternate universes, but a place in one's heart, a place of wonder, a place of warmth.
John Lewis, The Guardian: Director Hannah Chissick's zippy production ricochets around the tiny theatre, cushioned by Legrand's well-upholstered melodies, while Adrian Gee's minimal set design brings 1950s Paris to life using only a dozen chairs, four pushbikes, a few torches and a lamp-post. The big problem here is the everyman figure of Dusoleil who, despite an energetic performance by Gary Tushaw, is too blank and aloof to elicit much empathy. It's a pity because - for all the witty rhyming couplets, heart-tugging chord changes and inventive staging - the show struggles to engage emotionally.
We're in a comically romanticised evocation of Paris, all bicycles and chain-smoking. Amour shifts between two modes. One feels like one of those Two Ronnies musical finales full of deft, daft wordplay and a bit of bawdy humour. The other is full on Legrand romance: swirling, shifting chord progressions and intensely lyrical love songs.
Alice Saville, Time Out London: 'Amour' isn't a musical that leaves you with much to chew on, with only the unexpected bittersweet ending complicating its joyfully fluffy feel. But although I can see how it would fall flat on Broadway, its Gallic charms work wonders in this intimate space.
Ann Treneman, The Times: There is a cartoon simplicity to it all that is quirky, a sort of prototype Amélie, but it isn't long before its appeal wanes. The music by Michel Legrand features layered harmonies and forgettable catchy tunes on endless repeat.
Mark Shenton, LondonTheatre.co.uk: It is galvanised by the delicate and deft choreography of Matt Cole, which creates a tapestry of movement that keeps it from stalling in a state of whimsy. And the utterly convincing performances of Gary Tushaw - a man stunned by his own transformation from one of life's zeros to a hero - and especially the shimmering-voiced Anna O'Byrne as the woman he falls in love with, bring it to radiant life. They are surrounded by a supporting cast, mostly playing multiple characters that includes Claire Machin as a hilarious old-time prostitute, that constantly delight. Special kudos, too, to Jordan Li-Smith's six-strong band, perched on the balcony above the stage, for their unobtrusively elegant playing.
Marissa Khaos, The Upcoming: Hannah Chissick's direction makes good use of the "in the round" theatre space while lighting design by Rob Halliday adds the necessary elements to captivate and enchant the audience, especially when voices rise from under the umbrellas with spotlights forming as if the sound comes from the fading stars. While very imaginative, the lighting for this production often leaves one guessing who is doing the singing.
Greg Stewart, TheatreWeekly: But for all the faults with the book, the joie de vivre exuding from the cast overshadows the occasional shortcoming. Gary Tushaw succeeds in giving Dusoleil a meaningful personality, and when paired with Anna O Byrne's Isabelle, the magic really does come through. Claire Machin gives the audience plenty to enjoy, her fantastic vocals aside, her portrayal of the town prostitute is joyous, and has the audience in hysterics.