Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut
Tron Theatre Company
A lovingly disrespectful homage to the classic film, this fast-paced distillation will have you raise a Bogart-style eyebrow, shed a Bergman-like tear and drown out the Nazis with a rousing chorus of the Marseillaise.
Michael Curtiz’s 1942 Holywood classic is not only an icon of contemporary popular culture, it is a cinematic masterpiece beloved the world over. Walking into Casablanca; The Gin Joint Cut feels like watching an unknown troupe of jugglers preparing to make merry with the treasured family china. Walking out you know that the sparkling one liners, high drama and human interest are safe in their hands.
The writing cleverly treads the path between maintaining the energy and pace needed to cover the ground in an hour, whilst remaining true and respectful to the original screenplay. Casablanca is the story of lives disrupted by WWII, of a hero in waiting and the woman he loved, lost, found and loses again.
In an age where theatrical revivals of film and TV classics is a box office safe bet it is a pleasure to watch three dynamic and talented professionals at work on great material. Each actor plays multiple roles, often at a frantic pace, to great comic effect. Their energy never flags or falters.
The set is the interior of Rick’s Bar. Owned and managed by the eponymous character Bogart made his own. Rick’s is the way station for hundreds of would-be escapees from Nazi occupied Europe looking to America for refuge. The translation from Warner Brother’s lot to Pleasance One is hugely successful. Every part of the intimate set is used to amplify the scripts and performance with maximum clarity.
The lighting, sound and staging all contribute to a hugely atmospheric piece. Laughably low budget cheats (think of an aerosol can used to produce fog on the runway) were never allowed to distract from the magic moments being recreated.
Many shows, at both Edinburgh and beyond, attempt to revise classics. Few do it so successfully. Fewer do it whilst adding luster to their subjects. This representation of Casablanca achieves both as well as being a brilliant piece of live theatre.
**This show was reviewed jointly by father and son team Mike Fitzgerald (60s) and Dan Lentell (20s).
DL: Casablanca is a favorite in our family. I tend to avoid stage revivals of definitive movies and TV shows – what can they add, they’ll have to subtract or substitute? I was genuinely thrilled by this production. The cast work so brilliantly together. Author (Morag Fullarton) shows an essential reverence for arguably the most perfect movie of all time. I didn’t think it would be possible for the hopeless romance between Rick and Ilsa to be rekindled. They’ll always have Paris, but now they have Edinburgh too.
MF. I loved this show. It is high-paced, low-budget, hugely infectious delivery is utterly compelling. The audience was picked up and engaged from the first moments. Unsure of people treading on such an iconic piece, we the audience soon relaxed and sang along. It is a brilliantly inventive, fun hour of Fringe theatre. It is played in a very big venue. It deserves to be. Its that good and deserves the audience to fill it.