'Play it Again Sam' or 'On second thoughts, maybe not?'

'Play It Again Sam', Woody Allen
Gatehouse Upstairs, Wednesday 25th May 2011
Written for Time Out 

 Allan Felix, recently deserted by his wife, sighs despondently as 'Casablanca' flickers on TV. 'Why can't I be cool? What's the secret?', he wails. In the time it takes Allan to let out a forlorn, 'Oy!', Humphrey Bogart materialises. He's here to offer his fan some advice and help him bag a dame.

So, with the aid of Bogart and some anxious friends, hapless Allan raids his little black book and embarks on a slew of catastrophic dates. If it sounds simple, that's because it is. Woody Allen's, 'Play It Again Sam', is really an over-extended sketch. The material is thin and the theatrical effects, including endless flashbacks and fantasy sequences, feel dated.

Granted, neurotic Jew Allan (Tim Frost) has some plum one-liners but it's hard to shake the feeling he's 'doing Woody Allen'. Only James Kermack adds some colour as best friend Dick, a ball busting business man, more attached to his phone than his wife.

There are some giggles but this predictable piece needs more energy and panache. One of the few flourishes from director John Plews comes at the close, as Allan's ex-wife is sucked into a smoky hole. But it isn't enough to fire up this slightly laboured and lacklustre comedy.


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