note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Beverly Creasey
What does it portend, I wonder…I hope…that just about every show in town is sending up George W. Bush? Add to the list A.R. “Pete” Gurney’s own poison pen letter to the President. SCREEN PLAY takes the form of everyone’s favorite film, CASABLANCA (and is performed, like Gurney’s LOVE LETTERS, script in hand). Only now, in the too, too near future, Gurney’s beloved Buffalo, not French Morocco, is the gathering place for fleeing patriots, anxious to cross the border into Canada. And of course, at the center of the intrigue, are those pesky letters of transit.
Director Richard McElvain has enlisted a stellar cast: Stephanie Clayman in the Ingrid Bergman role, David DeBeck as Bogey, Dee Crawford as Sam, Peter Haydu as the mighty orator, Michael Nurse in the adorable Claude Rains role, John Davin as the Nazi colonel (now a Bible thumping right wing wacko), John Porell as everyone else ---and Jeffrey Goldberg tickling the ivories. You get the idea.
Who could forget the wonderful confrontation scene in Rick’s Café where the free French drown out the Nazis with a rousing chorus of the Marseilles? Although Fleetwood Mac can hardly compare with the French National anthem, Gurney’s parallel scene is pretty cute.
SCREEN PLAY isn’t biting satire but it is fun to see which familiar lines make it in and which don’t. The closing line from SOME LIKE IT HOT even squeaks in! If Gurney’s one-act were a little shorter, it could be paired with Christopher Durang’s A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FILM which runs roughshod over all the classic movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s. And this is the cast that could do it!