REVIEW: She Loves Me
A sweet and charming break to Cambridge life
I went into the auditorium expecting to not particularly like this show: the general impression I had garnered from the publicity and the story was something sickly sweet, pink, fluffy perhaps and definitely flamboyant. I also don’t usually like the classic musicals a huge amount. However, from the moment Capucine May stepped on stage and began to dance in a frankly ridiculously talented manner, I knew I was in for something very different, and by the end of the show I was absolutely and completely in love.
She Loves Me is set in Maraczek’s parfumerie in 1930s Budapest, and revolves around the entangled love lives of the employees. One day, Amalia Balash turns up seeking a job, and once hired tensions begin to rise between herself and a co-worker, Georg Nowack, until he realises that she is actually his secret pen-pal from a Lonely Hearts advert and hilarity ensues.
Something absolutely gorgeous about this show is the sense of professionality and skill it displays. The singing was beautiful, the dancing was perfect, the acting was wonderful. It was clearly very well rehearsed and very well thought through, resulting in the feeling of safety; I knew I could completely trust all the actors to smash every song, which meant that I could relax and just enjoy the show.
However, often being well rehearsed causes fatigue and makes the performances rather robotic and beige- again, this was not the case here. there was an incredible sense of blazing energy and love for the show from the cast. They gave it absolutely all they had, and because of this every scene felt exciting and big and energetic.
I particularly loved the sense of self-awareness that was put across by the actors, necessary for such a sweet and flamboyant script- in one scene, the teenage delivery boy skipped across the stage and cried out ‘Autumn’ whilst throwing a handful of leaves into the air with a sudden orange lighting change. This sense of irony and self-awareness transformed the production from a one tone, sickly sweet story into witty, wry and intelligent.
The whole cast acted together as a well-oiled machine, but there were definitely some stand-out performances. Annabelle Haworth, as Amalia, was honestly stunning. Warm, funny, quick-witted- an absolute delight to watch, and indeed hear. Mariam Abdel-Razek brought hilarious facial expressions and incredible comic timing, and Capucine May showed gorgeous sincerity to her role.
In terms of tech and staging, things weren’t perfect, but that’s forgivable considering it was actually the first time it had all been put together, since there wasn’t time for a dress rehearsal. The cast handled any problem with grace and humour.
One qualm I did have about the production was the fact that the plot and script itself is rather dated. Usually, it came across as quaint and charming, but there was one moment that I felt was slightly crude- the owner of the shop, Mr. Maraczek, tries to commit suicide near the end of the first half, portrayed by a gun shot sound coupled with a flash of red lighting. In an age of such sensitivity with regards to mental health, this felt a bit cringe-worthy and sensational, though I do feel this is partially a problem with the ageing script.
Overall, this production was sweet, refreshing and energetic. I'm going to give this show 4.5/5 stars.
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