Hilary Holbrook has worked as an actor and violinist in Chicago since graduating from Loyola in 2008. When not in the theater, Hilary enjoys knitting, antiquing, and adventures of all kinds!
Emily Goldberg and Brian Fimoff in Black Button Eyes Productions’ of AMOUR. Photo by Cole Simon.
Review: AMOUR at Black Button Eyes Productions
By Hilary Holbrook
I love a good rom-com. I’ve watched countless movies of tortured, misunderstood “bad boys” who bare their muscley souls to the “nice girl” in town, overcome adversity, live happily ever after, and ride off into the sunset, and it never.gets.old. In the end, everyone gets what they want, and really, the only lesson you need is that love will prevail. A charming, if slightly misleading lesson to be sure, but the far more interesting character in any good love story is the unassuming guy in the corner, and this is the story of AMOUR.
Based on the short story by Marcel Ayme, AMOUR tells the story of DuSoleil (Brian Fimoff), a shy and slightly reclusive clerk in post World War II Montmartre, Paris. DuSoleil’s world is forever changed when he suddenly has the ability to walk through walls, and, therefore, finds the courage and fortitude to tell his feelings to his love, Isabelle (Emily Goldberg). A colorful cast of townspeople round out the story of AMOUR, Black Button Eyes’ production playing in the studio theater of the Athenaeum, and the result is a sweet, funny, and all around lovely night at the theater.
Fimoff is well cast as DuSoleil, although there were moments where he was difficult to hear. Goldberg’s voice is simply gorgeous, and she and Fimoff work well together. The townspeople (Scott Gryder, Matt McNabb, Mikaela Sullivan, Tommy Thurston, Kevin Webb, Missy Wise, and Greg Zawada) are all delightfully funny, incredibly talented musicians. Wise has been particularly hysterical during “Whore’s Lament”, and Gryder did an excellent job of bringing subtle nuances to each of his characters. Directed by Ed Rutherford, the cast does an excellent job at making the tiny studio space seem much bigger than it is. The movement and choreography of Derek Van Barham did a wonderful job of varying the locations of the story (office, streetcorner, courtroom, etc.), and Nick Sula’s music direction is spot on. However, the production as a whole would have had a bigger impact if the set were a little more steeped in reality.
When I first saw the set, I thought the show was going to be about a torrid, Moroccan love affair, and not the story of a quaint group of townspeople. The story already has a cartoonish plot device that does not need enhancing; DuSoleil walks through walls. When such a device is used in a story, it’s important to make all other elements as steeped in reality as possible. The costumes, choreography, and music all helped to illustrate a Parisian town, which is all the set needed to be.
This is not a musical that challenges your beliefs in love or makes you reexamine your priorities on this earth, and it doesn’t need to be. It is simply a story about a shy guy who discovers a unique ability. Come for a sweet little story. Come for absolutely beautiful singing, and you will not be disappointed.