Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill
2 – 24 February, 2018.
Four Flat Whites at Castle Hill
Review From Stage Whispers Magazine
A visit to the spacious foyer of the Castle Hill Players with free tea and biscuits at interval is always a pleasure. Long may the cranes of redevelopment (seen ominously just a few hundred metres away building a new railway station) keep their distance from this oasis of well-produced comedy and drama.
Four Flat Whites in Italy is a comedy written by Roger Hall, who can be best described as New Zealand’s equivalent of David Williamson. In this play he presents a smorgasbord of first world problems endured by tourists to Italy.
The laughs came thick and fast and so did the recognition. Haven’t we all been on a holiday from ‘hell’ or at least a few days from ‘hell’?
Larry Murphy (Harry) is a right wing businessman with his second-wife Margaret Olive (Judy) who insists she is ‘not a trophy wife’ but at times acts like one. With them are retired Labor voting librarians Stephen Snars (Adrian) and Annette Emerton (Alison).
Sometimes aspects of community theatre can top the experience of a professional production.
Harry wants to have a good time, while Alison wants to soak up every bit of culture according to a regimented timetable that Mussolini would have been proud of.
They arrive in Venice, immediately lose their way, get exhausted from dragging their suitcases up steep stairs and eventually find their preferred room at a Pensione has been given away so (horror of horrors) they have to share a bathroom.
Sometimes aspects of community theatre can top the experience of a professional production. Whereas when the Ensemble Theatre staged this play a few years ago it was all done (very nicely) with projections, designer Steve Wimmer treated the audience to an actual set comprising two squeezy bedrooms next to a share shower. A very cleverly designed canal bridge, gondola and a car also “popped up” onto the stage. Touché!
The tightly directed production from Carol Wimmer was well cast and well-paced. The most fun is had by minor part actors Aurel Vasilescu and Michelle Masefield, who play a variety of Italian characters from waiters, to rip off merchants.
But balanced against the frivolity are some serious themes touching on love and loss that make it a satisfying night in the theatre.