Theatre review: Soulpepper beautifully remounts Parfumerie, a Toronto holiday tradition
Oliver Dennis and Patricia Fagan (Pafumerie, 2009). Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
If it loathes and bickers like love—and there’s garland and snowflakes in the background—then it’s probably
love at Christmastime.
Ahh. At least in Toronto, where Soulpepper continues its biannual tradition of remounting Hungarian playwright Miklós László’s
Parfumerie at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The play—which you’ve probably seen in its
The Shop Around the Corner or
You’ve Got Mail Hollywood incarnations—was translated and adapted for Soulpepper by resident artists Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins (who also stars in the show) and premiered on stage in 2009.
Now in its third remount, the show brings back its original cast (including
Score: A Hockey Musical actor Noah Reid as Jansci, the assistant’s assistant, with the addition of Maev Beaty as the endearingly flighty shop girl Miss Ratz) to tell the beautiful story of falling in love the good ol’ fashion epistolic way with someone you overtly can’t stand in real life. Our feuding unbeknownst lovers (played by Oliver Dennis and Patricia Fagan) work at the Hammerschmidt and Company parfumerie in Budapest— set up as a candy-coloured playland of
luxe body care—alongside their meddling, mostly well-intentioned co-workers (there’s always one who spoils it by having an affair with the boss’s wife). It’s like watching one big family unravel and fall back in love again, heightened by the pervading
magic of Christmas in Europe. I first saw the show on opening night of its second run in 2011, and immediately fell for its charming mix of characters (Jeff Lillico’s shop assistant, Arpad, comes to mind) and light-hearted play on our tendency to romanticize romance this time of year. Because even in the darkest, seemingly dire circumstances that could break our love affair with love, we’re always rooting for things to turn out by Christmas Eve—and for a good laugh in the meantime. This show delivers, and I’m already nostalgic for it.
Parfumerie runs at the Young Centre for the Performing arts until December 28.
Fashion design process: A look at theatre costume design
Gift idea: Best holiday gift ideas under $50