CASABLANCA: THE GIN JOINT CUT
ÒRAN MÓR, GLASGOW
Reviewed by Mark Brown
Since it was established by the late producer David MacLennan in 2004, Glasgow’s immensely successful lunchtime theatre A Play, a Pie and a Pint has presented more than 400 mini-dramas. Few have enjoyed greater audience and critical acclaim than Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut, writer/director Morag Fullarton’s affectionate, comic homage to Michael Curtiz’s famous movie.
A palpable hit in Glasgow and on the Edinburgh Fringe since its premiere in 2011, the show was celebrated when it played Théâtre Déjazet in Paris in 2014. It returns now as an evening entertainment at its home venue, the former church that is Glasgow’s Òran Mór venue.
We are treated to an appetiser of 1940s songs (including, of course, As Time Goes By), sung by the fine-voiced chanteuse Jerry Burns. However, as Ms Burns nears the end of her short set, the sight of half-naked actor Gavin Mitchell wandering across the stage, a steam iron in one hand, a pair of trousers in the other, is a sign of things to come.
Mitchell (who is best known to many as Boabby the Barman in the BBC sitcom Still Game) is joined by excellent actors Clare Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm in a fabulously funny retelling of the Second World War thriller.
Much of the humour derives from the play’s miniaturisation of the film. All three actors play numerous characters, and Chisholm’s frenetic costume changes make for particularly delightful comedy; culminating, as they do, in the hilarious scene in which he plays the disreputable police chief Captain Renault and the Resistance hero Victor Laszlo at the same time. Waugh is similarly brilliant as she cuts improbably between romantic heroine Ilsa Lund (the Ingrid Bergman role in the film) and the menacing Nazi Major Strasser.
There’s no Casablanca without Bogey, however, and Mitchell is simply outstanding as Rick Blaine, the heartbroken American trying to see out the war by running a gin joint and gambling den in Morocco. Assisted by his trusty pianist Sam (well, a small, wooden statue of Sam), Mitchell offers a deliciously exaggerated parody of Bogart’s performance in the movie.
Fast-paced, inventive and gloriously silly, this slick farce also manages, somehow, to tell the story of love, espionage and the fight for liberty. Six years on from its premiere, this much-loved spoof still has its audiences cheering it to the rafters.
Until July 23
This review was originally published on the website of the Daily Telegraph on July 8, 2017
© Mark Brown