Comedy review: Casablanca - The Gin Joint Cut at the Pleasance

Talented cast poke gentle fun at Humphrey Bogart classic in entertaining romp

Casablanca. There’s not a whole lot new that can be said about the wartime cinematic great.

But as such a towering classic of Hollywood’s Golden Age, it’s certainly ripe for parody.

It’s been done before notably in Woody Allen’s spoof Play it Again, Sam, and this month the Pleasance Theatre brings us an irreverent take tailored to the stage.

It stars only Gavin Mitchell, Clare Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm and was a success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.


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Simply staged, the set-up relies on the three cast members’ chameleon shifts in order to hold attention and effectively execute the story. Bustling with verve and chutzpah, this is a lively, high octane production.

The cast manages a faithful presentation of the dialogue, whilst taking opportunities to send up the original. Initially it feels like the film is being mocked, but as the play progresses the affection bursts through, with entertaining facts about the original film are dispensed throughout.

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The play isn’t without faults, with some of the jokes over-enunciated, reminiscent of music hall period comedy. There is also a superfluous opening and closing scene that adds nothing but running time to the production.

Although it will certainly play better to those already familiar with the source material, newcomers will find much to enjoy.

For all the comedy, however, this Casablanca functions well when it plays it straight. It is not something it manages very often, as the drinks offered in this Rick’s Bar come with a knowing nod, a camp wink and a suggestive grin.

All in all, a breezy and good-natured romp featuring a talented cast.

* Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut is at the Pleasance in Carpenters Mews, N7, until October 21

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