WE NEED honesty in life right now, given we seem to headed off the edge of a cliff by a Pied Piper with a bad haircut.

More than ever we need an injection of Amelie.

Amelie is the theatre show based on the 2001 film which went on to pick up five Academy Award nominations.

The show is now on a UK tour, with French-Canadian actress Audrey Brisson in the lead role.

“Amelie is a story of a young girl who struggles to connect to people around her so she just creates a world of imagination,” says the actress.

“She likes to have a step away from the rest of the world and to view it. She likes to meddle in other people’s lives to try and force them to connect with other people.”

The film is a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre.

It tells the story of a shy waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation.

Amelie, we learn is the daughter of eccentric parents who believed she has a heart defect, and decided to home school her.

Cut off from the world of other children her imagination kicks in.

Yet, while Amelie is a meddler there is also a refreshing truth about the character.

“My favourite thing about playing her is her unconventional honesty,” says Audrey.

“I’m talking about the honesty of the reality. She’s not portrayed or made to look perfect and beautiful; she is a complex human being as we all are.

“She reminds us all of ourselves a little bit.”

The narrative in the story comes from a key event in August 1997.

Startled by the news of the death of Princess Diana, Amélie drops a plastic perfume-stopper which dislodges a wall tile - and accidentally reveals an old metal box of childhood memorabilia.

We learn it’s been hidden by a boy who had lived in her apartment decades earlier.

Amélie resolves to track down the boy and return the box to him. She promises herself that if it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others.

Audrey loves the storyline and the songs that underline real poignancy.

“At one point you see Amelie in not quite despair but facing the reality of her messed up view of the world and how she’s forced to face it and lift the veil of denial.

“It’s a nice moment for me to just sit by the piano and have all the beautiful actor-musicians standing in support behind – it’s a moment I can breathe and calm down.”

She adds; “Our version is set at the same time as the film, before mobile phones and everything.

“But it’s still so relevant to today with the fact people don’t connect – even though they have so many opportunities to talk to one another with phones or texts, message, or emails.

“I like that. I like the complexities of her as a character and the other characters in the show. The complexities of the stories within themselves are also simple.”

Audrey Brisson’s life reveals its own complexities. Her father was a Cirque du Soleil band leader.

From the age of three she would tour with him and by the age of four she was part of the show.

“I started performing at a very young age,” she says, smiling.

“I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Her mother was also a performer.

“She was a singer – she used to have this corde lisse act where she would be climbing up the rope and sing opera. They were both very, very, charismatic people.”

Audrey kicked against following her parents into the business however.

“I fought against it for quite a while actually. After Cirque Du Soleil I came back to Canada to finish high school.

“I then did study some classical singing, but I remember distinctly thinking to myself at times ‘I will not become a singer! I will not be like my mother! I will not be onstage! I’m only doing this because I don’t know what else to do.’”

She studied Sociology at university but eventually the call of the crowd became too strong to ignore.

“You miss it, don’t you,” she says, rhetorically. “It called me back.”

Audrey took off to drama college in London. And then worked hard to deal with the fact work doesn’t come along too easily.

“After drama school it was a bit tough. The phone didn’t ring. And you have to live the reality of being an actor, never knowing exactly when the next job is going to come about.”

Gradually however fortunes changed and the actress went on to play the wide-eyed Gelsomina in the musical stage adaptation of Federico Fellini’s 1954 film La Strada.

Meantime however there’s a certainty her early peripatetic life has offered a real empathy with Amelie.

“We all have that need and desire to connect with one another.

“In cities we are so jammed up together and yet we can feel quite lonely, because God forbid you would ever smile at the person that you were next to on the train.”

Amelie, we learn, helps people form relationships, find their dreams. She helps a blind man to “see”. She even begins gaslighting a horrible greengrocer when she discovers what he is up to.

It’s a tale of someone looking out for others.

“I hope that this story is a nice reminder that you should look up and smile at the person on the train next to you, to remember they won’t bite you.

“They’re probably in a similar situation to you, just wanting to be seen and wanting to be acknowledged.”

But does Amelie herself find happiness?

“That’s what we have to hope,” says the actress.

Amelie, The King’s Theatre, August 19-24.