Expect the unexpected in Parfumerie where mistaken suspicion and twist of fate deliver a festive heart warmer topping everyone’s holiday wish list. And if that’s not enough to drag you down to the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, then don’t be surprised if there’s a chunk of coal in your stocking this year.
Director Morris Panych’s staging emphasizes the emotions of the characters in this romantic comedy bypassing the trap of distancing the audience. The lissome cast follow his vibrant direction which tugs at your heart and conscience with artful impressionism.
Money is too tight to mention in Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins’ stylized creation which takes place in a Hungarian gift shop with a close knit group. Sales are not what they used to be but scattered shoppers keep the team’s feet moving swiftly.
With romance in the air for some, love seems to be on the rocks for shop owner, Miklos (Joseph Ziegler), who suspects his wife of being unfaithful. It’s just a matter of time before a feisty Miklos begins to clean house in order to rid those disloyal to the family atmosphere he’s established at the store.
During this turmoil Rosie (Michelle Monteith) and George (Gregory Prest) are at each other’s throats in the play’s overlapping story. These are two peas best left in separate pods due to irreconcilable personality conflict in the workplace.
What makes Parfumerie work is its lovable characters. Robust and canny, these are people you want to know throughout their ups and downs.
The fun starts with Kevin Bundy’s mischievousStephan Kdash who finds it easy to score $20 until pay day. Michael Simpson’s look before he leaps Louis Sipos knows how to maintain a low profile in delivering a consequential tip off.
As the emotionally tortured Miklos Hammerschmidt, Joseph Ziegler is firmly grounded in the moment trying to sort out wrong from right. Jeff Lillico’s zany Arpad is his trusted lackey that always has his employer’s back.
All of which leaves ample breathing room for Michelle Monteith and Gregory Prestwhose characters are on an unforeseen collision course of sorts. Their tempestuous dealings with one another are not only thrilling to watch but downright charming when they bury the hatchet for good.
Parfumerie isn’t the most original story by design yet that’s not remotely the point. It’s playfully poignant and passionately purposeful making you thankful for shopping at Hammerschimdt and Company this holiday season.
Review by Jonathan O’Neil
PARFUMERIE by Miklos Laszlo, adapted by Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins December 10-27, 2016 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $29.50 – $89.00www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Sarah Wilson, Anna Atkinson, Kevin Bundy, Gregory Prest, Michelle Monteith, Jeff Lillico, Michael Simpson, Deborah Drakeford, Gordon Hecht, Kristina Uranowski, William Webster, Joseph Ziegler, Brenda Robins and Michael Simpson DIRECTOR Morris Panych SET Ken MacDonald COSTUMES Dana Osborne LIGHTING Bonnie Beecher STAGE MANAGER Arwen MacDonell