Theatre review: Sunset Boulevard, Oran Mor, Glasgow

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OFFICIALLY, the Play, Pie And Pint summer Classic Cuts season doesn’t begin until next week; but summer has come early for this week’s lunchtime crowds, as they pile in to catch the latest cut-down, no-holds-barred movie tribute from Morag Fullarton, the woman who famously gave them Casablanca –The Lunchtime Cut.

SUNSET BOULEVARD

ORAN MOR, GLASGOW

Rating: ****

And true to form, Fullarton’s version of Sunset Boulevard is a fabulously camp and entertaining homage to Billy Wilder’s great 1950 film, lightly framed in a brief scene or two about Wilder’s slightly fraught relationship with his great star, Gloria Swanson. In no time at all, though, we’re plunged straight into the inimitable Hollywood noir of the story, with Juliet Cadzow acting up a storm as faded silent-movie star Norma Desmond, John Kielty in fine form as Joe, the struggling young screenwriter drawn into her web of wealth and madness, and Mark McDonnell and Frances Thorburn playing various other roles.

It’s a tribute to Fullarton’s skill that, despite lasting a mere 50 minutes, her version of Sunset Boulevard misses none of the film’s most famous scenes or legendary lines. And if revisiting one of the greatest film stories ever told is an easier business that writing a new play from scratch – and one that inevitably attracts a larger audience – it’s still no small feat to accomplish that re-telling in such fine style; with plenty of humour, and yet just enough narrative weight and seriousness to make the story work its old magic, gripping our hearts and minds right to that legendary final close-up.

• Run ends today