Just got back from watching Four Flat Whites in Italy at Circa.
I was expecting it to be highly enjoyable for two reasons. The first is that it is a Roger Hall play. The second is that it first was staged a few years ago, and lots of my friends saw it and raved about it.
It didn’t disappoint. Roger Hall has a gift for not just writing funny comedies, but comedies that reflect Kiwi life and mannerisms. You see so much of yourself reflected in the characters on stage. In fact the friend who attended with me, was unerringly similar on holidays to Alison the Librarian.
There were six characters. Adrian and Alison were one couple, played by Stuart Devenie and Darien Takle. They are a couple of retired librarians and the trip to Italy is their once in a lifetime adventure. By adventure, they mean art galleries and cathedrals.
Their best friends are unable to make it, so they go with their new neighbours – Harry and Judy, played by Tim Gordon and Vivien Bell. They are far more into late mornings and doing as little as possible on holiday.
The play is similar to The Motor Camp, with most of the humour coming from two mismatched couples – one uptight and one free spirited. There is also a degree of dark secrets and sexual tension to keep things interesting.
The dark secret is revealed fairly early on. I won’t reveal it here, but will note that four of the plays I have seen in the last two years at Circa have all had much the same dark secret. It would be nice to have a greater variety of dark secrets in play.
Stuart Devenie also acts as a narrator for the play, often narrating what has happened to the audience, on top of his dialogue. He was the start of the show for me, with his numerous asides and his wonderful array of facial expressions.
Also worth of mention are Simon Vincent and Heather O’Carroll who play a variety of Italian roles from a photo touting Roman legionary at the Coliseum to a Count and Contessa who own a villa the families stay at. A very funny joke in the script about how it is only Australians and New Zealanders who make jokes about spelling Count with an O.
The play is quite long at 140 minutes, but has an interval. However it is never boring. The laughs are pretty much non stop, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable play. Kudos should also go to the set designer, especially for the pop up car.Tags: Circa, Reviews