Last night I went along to The Pavilion in Bournemouth to see Amelie on the stage. As is becoming quite a theme with these show reviews, I didn’t know much of what it was about beforehand, and I am actually enjoying going in blind, without any spoilers or preconceived ideas. All I knew was that the musical is based on the film of the same name, and that the story is set in France. Fortunately for me, as I was never good at languages, the musical is in English rather than French. I took along my brother’s girlfriend, and we settled down for a good girly evening with themed cupcakes to enjoy, courtesy of BH Live.
I loved how there was no warning the show was about to begin. It just suddenly goes dark and you are transported to what I presumed was an underground train station, complete with the sounds and lighting you would see. I must say that the lighting and staging throughout was incredible – it really helped set the scene and bring the story to life right in front of your eyes.
Another thing I must mention early on is how incredible the cast were. I believe everybody on the stage played an instrument at least once, many throughout the majority of the show, all alongside acting and singing, and moving the staging around as well. The energy on the stage was captivating. It was brilliant to watch the cast all working together as one, and the end result was something I have never seen before. It was organised chaos and it was fantastic.
As the cast all had fairly heavy French accents, and the live music was pretty loud, at times I did struggle to understand and hear some of the lyrics to the songs, which meant I was a little lost in places. I am not sure whether this was an issue others faced, or whether it was just me, but it did take a little away from the musical for me as I wasn’t 100% sure of what was going on at all times. I think if I had of seen the film beforehand, or researched into the story, this wouldn’t have been as big an issue though.
Without spoiling the show for those yet to see it, the main storyline follows Amelie and her life from a young girl (re-enacted on the stage with a puppet – this was very cleverly done, but I hate puppets as they scare me, so I wasn’t keen!) to the point she is at now, working as a waitress in a cafe, very much the dreamer. From what I understand, Amelie may have Aspergers syndrome, and displays signs of this in the way her character is played. This, along with the rather abstract style of performance, including the use of puppets and breaking the fourth wall, may not be to everyone’s taste. I must admit, I did find it a little odd in places, but I also really enjoyed the sense of joy the cast created.
There were definitely darker elements to the story and, as somebody who suffers from anxiety, I did find a couple of parts a little hard to watch, but there were also plenty of laugh out loud moments too, and the cast really worked hard to provide an interactive performance that the audience felt a part of. A favourite moment was the end of the first act, when Amelie is imagining herself as Princess Diana, who is referenced several times as the story is set around the time of her death, which happened in Paris in 1997. This scene was pretty pivotal, and a good place to break at for the interval before the story continued for the second act.
I really enjoyed Amelie, which is on in Bournemouth until this Saturday 17th August, with tickets available from the BH Live website. Although, as I mentioned, there were some parts which I found hard to hear and therefore understand, I don’t feel it took too much away from the musical overall, and I left with a big smile on my face, hands sore from clapping.
I was provided with complimentary tickets however all words are my own. Images kindly provided by BH Live for use in this post.