Parfumerie, which plays at Soulpepper until
I have never liked the film You’ve Got Mail (1998), I am not fond of the musical She Loves Me (1963) and Parfumerie (1937) is the Hungarian play by Miklós László that spawned both adaptations of the story of two disgruntled employees who infuriate one another, only to find out that they have also fallen in love amid a lengthy romance consisting only of anonymous letters. Surprisingly, of all the adaptations and modernizations and translations, this production of the original, adapted by Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins, is undoubtedly my favourite.
Pettle and Robins have created a beautiful balance in their adaptation between capturing the spirit of
What insured an enjoyable evening at the theatre with this production for me was the stellar array of Soulpepper cast members. From Maev Beaty’s charm and sense of comic timing to Kevin Bundy’s hilarious Beau Brummel womanizer and Michael Simpson’s earnest, bumbling, utterly endearing Mr. Sipos, it is certain that Soulpepper is sharing talent by the plenty this holiday season. Oliver Dennis and Patricia Fagan play the lovers, George Asztalos and Rosie Balaz respectively, and both give lovely, captivating performances. Dennis is especially endearing in creating George to be a loyal man with strong ideals who is meticulous in his way of ordering his life but easily swayed by emotion. Fagan counters Dennis with a Rosie who is feisty, quick witted and impatient. Fagan’s froggy voice when Rosie gets a cold is particularly fantastic.
The star performances in this play are Jeff Lillico’s delightful and incredibly ambitious mischief-maker apprentice Arpad, who manages to be equal parts endearing and hilarious and Joseph Ziegler’s beautiful performance as Miklos Hammerschmidt. Ziegler creates his Mr. Hammerschmidt as a man of incredible power, distinct dignity and heartbreaking frailty throughout the production and when he is onstage the intensity is palpable.
I was still not entirely convinced of George and Rosie’s abhorrence of one another melting so swiftly upon the realization that both were romantic, intellectual epistlers, but I found that this play’s success did not hinge on my acceptance of this fact either. At the same time, I was so captivated by the characters that I was willing to suspend my disbelief in pursuit of a happily ever after. In all, Parfumerie left me feeling a little bit warmer and very glad of stopping into the world of the shop around the corner.
Thank you for shopping at Hammerschmidt’s!