In 1937 Budapest, Miklos Hammerschmidt (Richard Schiff) owns a perfume store. His chief clerk is George (Eddie Kaye Thomas), who doesn't get along very well with pretty female clerk Amalia (Deborah Ann Woll). Veteran clerk Mr. Sipos (Arye Gross) tries to get George to soften his behavior, but the two younger clerks simply can't stop fighting. George does have another interest, howeverthe pen pal he's in love with but has never met. When he discovers (without her knowledge) that his correspondent is Amalia, he's horrified at his past behavior to her and isn't sure if he should tell her the truth.
Schiff is quite good as Miklos, adopting an Eastern European cadence and a constant air of injured dignity. He's particularly effective in act one, where his uncontrollable frustration and anger brings unexpected dramatic fire. Thomas pulls off the difficult feat of making a character who does hurtful things early on into a sympathetic hero by play's end. Woll is terrific as Amalia, her expert comedic timing on great display as she details at length how much she detests George, not knowing he's her secret love. Gross is superb as the kindly Sipos, and Jacob Kemp often steals the show as the well-meaning if inept messenger boy Arpad.
Although this three-act play from an earlier era is long, under Mark Brokaw's direction the time flies by, and his staging uses Allen Moyer's handsome double-level perfume store set well. Michael Krass' costumes are vivid and evocative of the era. Dowdall's adaptation does a nice job of keeping the flavor and setting of the original show while updating the dialogue to work better for a modern audience. For those who would like the pleasure of an enjoyable revival performed in a brand-new theatre, Parfumerie serves as a double holiday treat.
Parfumerie runs at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts through December 22. For tickets and information, see thewallis.org.
The Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts - Executive Director Lou Moore - presents Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, adapted by E. P. Dowdall from the English translation by Florence Laszlo of the Hungarian play Illatszertár. Directed by Mark Brokaw. Scenic Design Allen Moyer; Costume Design Michael Krass; Lighting Design David Lander; Sound Design Jon Gottleib; Hair & Wig Design Paul Huntley; Original Music Peter Golub; Casting Cindy Tolan & Adam Caldwell; Coordinating Producer Alexander Fraser; Production Stage Manager Lora K. Powell.
Mr. Miklos Hammerschmidt: Richard Schiff