THEATRE REVIEW: She Loves Me at Sheffield Crucible

Good old fashioned family-friendly fun at the Crucible


THIS year’s Crucible Christmas offering is a musical romantic comedy so sweet and sugary you won't need a selection box this festive season.

She Loves Me started life as Parfumerie, a 1937 play by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo.

Three years later, it was adapted for Hollywood, becoming The Shop Around the Corner, and billed as one of cinema;s most perfect comedies.

The plotline became a blueprint for the romantic comedy genre and its most famous incarnation is the 1998 hit You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

You might be familiar with the narrative  boy and girl meet, find each other insufferable but unbeknownst to them are exchanging anonymous love letters/emails/Tinder messages, depending on the era.  

This latest stage offering set in Maraczek’s Parfumerie harks back to the golden era of classical Hollywood cinema with sophisticated costumes, art deco styling, traditional values and big band numbers.  

The striking pink and yellow corner shop opens out onto the Crucible stage like a child’s toy house to reveal a beautiful department store complete with singing staff and dancing customers.

I was awestruck at the build — it’s one of the most impressive sets I've seen and wouldn't look out of place in a Wes Anderson film.

Wannabe employee Amalia Balash (Alex Young) impresses Maraczek (Karl Seth) with her sales skills and is hired on the spot, much to the annoyance of top salesman Georg Nowack (David Thaxton).

Amalia and Georg become verbal sparring partners on the shop floor as the build-up to Christmas begins.

Their colleagues love lives are also revealed as the ensemble keep up the tempo as they dance between the aisles.

Young and Thaxton have great chemistry and their hate/love for each other is palpable. Their farcical first date in a French restaurant is a stand-out scene — Adele Anderson as the snotty Maitress D’ in a questionable table-swapping restaurant was a crowd-pleaser along with the clever choreography.

The live band tucked away on the first floor of the parfumerie provide a big, bold score throughout, which complements Young’s impressive voice.

Her frustrated solo, Where’s My Shoe, is a highlight and shows off her natural flair for comedy.

It’s the second time I've seen Young excel at the Crucible after she starred in the acclaimed Standing at the Sky’s Edge, and she looks just as at ease in this classic comedy as she did in the modern-day Richard Hawley-inspired musical — a true star.

She Loves Me doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s inoffensive, good old fashioned family-friendly fun that would make an ideal Christmas outing.

She Loves Me is at the Sheffield Crucible until January 15


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