Review: She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible

A top cast make She Loves Me a stylishly enjoyable festive treat at the Sheffield Crucible

“Why break someone in
when I’m already broken”

The Crucible may not be the first theatre to turn to She Loves Me for a festive treat – the Menier did the same back in 2016 – but this Sheffield version more than matches that twinkling production with its own brand of Northern charm. Based on Miklós László’s play Parfumerie which has been remade more than once as films like The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got Mail, this musical treatment (book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) finds its own bittersweet flavour.

We’re definitely in rom-com territory here, as warring Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash rub each other up the wrong way, little knowing that they are corresponding anonymously through a lonely hearts column. Will they get to rub each other up the right way? Whaddya think! But there’s a minor-key backdrop too which keeps things from ever getting too sweet, a note of sadness that tempers all the musical theatre frivolity as it presents us with the downs as well as the ups of life.

The result may therefore not quite be as light as one might expect from some festive programming but it’s none the worse for it, a circumspect look at all of life feels more appropriate now than ever. And Robert Hastie’s production balances this all well, emphasising the ensemble feel of the storytelling, making sure everyone has a voice. It also looks the part, Ben Stone’s design working intuitively to cultivate intimacy in this wide open space, aided by superlative lighting design from Jessica Hung Han Yun.

And Hastie has assembled a company who all revel in the opportunities given to them. David Thaxton and Alex Young lead from the front with strikingly modern takes on their characters, Andy Coxon and Kaisa Hammarlund both gloriously good as secondary couple Steven and Ilona, Lewis Cornay and Marc Elliott also offering up great work around a hard-working ensemble who nail the beats of Ewan Jones’ choreography. Stylishly great fun and worth the trip. 

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Johan Persson
She Loves Me is booking at the Sheffield Crucible until 15th January

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