Bagdad Cafe is a touching story about rebirth and friendship set in the Nevada desert.
The stage version of Percy Adlon’s 1987 film is clearly a labor of love for Emma Rice.
It depicts the story of two abandoned ladies from quite different origins who meet in a derelict cafe/hotel in the Nevada desert and create an unexpected bond.
After her spouse abandons her, Bavarian tourist Jasmin (Patrycja Kujawska) wanders into the area. After her slacker husband Sal (Le Gateau Chocolat) drives off into the desert, harassed Brenda (Sandra Marvin) is left to deal with obstinate children and a broken coffee machine.
As Jasmin’s calm, efficient presence revives the cafe’s fortunes, love blooms among the locals like a desert flower.
Rice conjures a quirky theatrical marvel that represents the big-hearted tone of the film, as well as the magic acts Jasmin practices to entertain the customers, by adding music and songs to the Oscar-nominated Calling You.
Puppets, models, and simple illusions add to the loose texture of the show, which is further enhanced by exquisite performances and Lez Brotherston and Vicki Mortimer’s oozing rust, dust, and tumbleweed set.
It isn’t polished or smooth, but it is undoubtedly uplifting and humorous.