Parfumerie – Soulpepper Theatre

By Crystal Wood



Go see Parfumerie right now.  It’s playing until December 24th at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

Go see Parfumerie, to be warmed, cheered and entertained. Then when you come home and turn on It’s a Wonderful Life, you’ll notice how cold and unfeeling it seems in comparison. Maybe I’m just full of festive cheer right now, but I really enjoyed this show. My friend Jo did too; she called it “uniformly good.”

This is a play with a long history. Originally written in 1937 by Miklos Laszlo, it has since been adapted into three movies: The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime, and You’ve Got Mail. Having seen all of these movies many times, I thought I was well-versed with the story. However, this new production (which draws primarily from the original work) offered a few additions to the Hollywood versions.

Anyone who’s seen You’ve Got Mail (and who hasn’t, with TBS airing it once a week) is probably familiar with its story of sparring employees who have been unknowingly trading love letters. But the original story delves further into all of the characters at Hammerschmidt’s, a parfumerie in 1920’s Budapest. I really enjoyed the heartbreaking storyline of the shop proprietor (that would be Mr. Hammerschmidt), and the comedy subplots with the store womanizer and the shop apprentice.

To steal Jo’s phrase, the cast was also uniformly good. Two stand-out performances for me were Joseph Ziegler as Mr. Hammerschmidt, (you really just want to hug that poor guy after a while), and Jeff Lillico’s ambitious apprentice, Arpad. We also both enjoyed the sets and period costuming, which Jo referred to as “cozy”.

Adapted by Toronto playwrights Adam Pettle and Brenda Robins it’s a wonderful addition to Soulpepper’s repertoire. I smell a new holiday classic in the making. So put on a cozy scarf, go see Parfumerie, and afterwards head to one of the coffee shops in the Distillery district for hot chocolate. It’ll be  a perfect winter day. You can thank me later!




– Playing until December 24, 2009

– Showtimes: Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm. Limited 1:30 matinees; check for dates

– Tickets: $28-68. Limited $20 rush tickets available 15 minutes prior to a show (based on availability)

– To purchase tickets, call 416-866-8666, online, or at the Young Centre (55 Mill Street, Building 49)