Paying tribute to the classic monochrome film, Casablanca, three actors transport us to Rick’s café in French Morocco, 1941. Casablanca is a timeless romantic movie featuring sophisticated American cynic Rick Blaine, who struggles to decide whether to help his former lover, Ilsa Lund, and her husband, Victor Lazlo, to escape to America. Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut fashions the movie into a hysterical 50-minute retelling, complete with spot-on impersonations, interesting titbits about the original movie, and side-splitting gags throughout.
Part of the ‘a play, a pint and a pie’ series currently running at the Traverse, this production welcomed an enthusiastic audience, who clearly know Casablanca well enough to pick up on their well-crafted jokes harmlessly poking fun at the movie. Bound by this sense of kinship and brought even closer by the actors’ acknowledgement of the spectators (leading to very entertaining moments of audience interaction), we were all very quickly on side with the likeable cast.
What really makes this show special is the cast’s obvious enjoyment in their performances. All three actors have superb comedic timing. They display wonderfully exaggerated impressions of the characters in the movie, perfectly capturing their idiosyncrasies. Gavin Mitchell’s imitation of café owner, Rick Blaine, is eerily accurate; he accentuates Bogart’s aloof tough-guy persona and commanding physicality.
Clare Waugh as Ilsa Lund (as well as an array of other characters) is playful and likeable. Exhibiting the essence of her characters, Waugh is able to move us at times by drawing out the emotional depths of the tragic love story, before we are whisked away to the next comedic state of affairs.
Kevin Lennon swiftly shifts between a multitude of characters, showing off his talent for seamless transitions between accents. His quick costume changes were particularly enjoyed by the audience as Lennon jumps between hats and jackets, accommodating Captain Renault and Victor Lazlo within the same piece of dialogue. It is precisely the right amount of ridiculousness. The show never coasts on repeated gags, but speckles just enough in-jokes to band us together.
Acknowledging a well-loved film such as Casablanca is no easy feat, but writer and director, Morag Fullarton, pulls off this production with tasteful humour. Largely setting the political turmoil of the film aside, Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut is so light-hearted and feel-good, the audience left still chuckling.
PHOTOS: Play, Pie, Pint