Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Three actors, one male, the other female tell us the story of Casablanca whilst giving us the best bits of the film in hilarious set pieces interspersed with the trivia from filming delivered in a subtle comedic tour de force.
Three professional actors are about to stage the film noir classic, Casablanca. With a casting director potentially in the audience the actress amongst them has designs on moving on. The two men, however want to tell the classic story in well, classic fashion. With RP delivery between set pieces they engage us with trivia whilst a running gag about smoking in theatre keeps the tempo at just the right level. It is far from reverential to its medium and much is made of three people playing a cast of well… more than three.
The writing is taught and wonderful. But then again it is Morag Fullarton. When Nobel Laureate came to the Fringe to see Fullarton’s production, after which he declared that Borderline was Fo and Fo was Borderline, the man saw what many before had believed. Fullarton can direct comedy better than most. With a string of Fringe Firsts to her credit and a notable history of comedic hits she has returned to a root of her work that shines from the beginning to the end. I just didn’t want to end with just Paris!
As for the three actors. If there are superlatives left to pour upon the three of them insert here. Looking like Bogart may sound hard but it is surely a lot easier than sounding as like him as Gavin Mitchell does. He has the rhythm, the metre and the hang dog look. He shows us just how funny Casablanca is as well as just how well rehearsed his craft is. As a foil Jimmy Chisholm is just wonderful. It is a delight to see someone who has that perfect timing – I will laugh out loud every time I see the gag with him burning himself. It is FAR from original but he does it better than I have seen. Clare Waugh goes from Ingrid Bergman to Nazi wit such ease that when she ends the play as she does you are thrilled to see it. Her work rate is the equal to other two and whilst it could have been a part that had less comic pieces to perform or less time onstage she is far from overshadowed. It is fantastic.
And the set! How wonderful to see one used so inventively and though it was certainly elaborate it had the charm of the Fringe show that came in the back of a van when it needed it. The climbing through a window for example or the walk to the cramped office are particularly memorable. They should do workshops for other fringe performers as to how inanimate objects can illuminate your performance.
This has been developed over time and it is evident that with time it has developed into a piece of comedy that has legs. It hits the mark and does so because it has been in front of an audience and had the investment of time and breathing space that drama requires to pass from one hit wonder into a cannon to be studied and revered.
I have sought to find fault but I can find none. To have this show with such a high rating for the second year in a row is down to just one thing – it’s worth it…