The small-scale Genesian Theatre productions have become something of a favourite for me over this past year. From the wholesome set up for their audience to the thoughtful appetisers and drinks on open nights, the Genesian Theatre have it all planned out for giving their audience a gorgeous experience. Four Flat Whites in Italy is a relatively new production, first being performed in 2008. It follows the unexpected journey of a group of neighbours travelling around Italian cities. A comedic account of two married couples from completely different backgrounds attempting to have a nice, relaxing holiday in Italy together. Through Rome, Venice and Tuscany, these couples have an interesting trip that constantly contests each other’s personality types.
To begin, I want to give my praise to the set and the set designers, Tui Clark and Tom Fahy. The subtle music played throughout the play created an atmosphere that specifically reminded me of my past trips to Italy. It accurately portrayed the feeling of being in an Italian city, with props of warm beige pillars and Latin inscriptions on the top section of the walls. Though the changes of setting between scenes were a little bit messy, it is understandable that the same background was utilised throughout the play, especially in such a small venue. All in all, the atmosphere was very calm and definitely evoked the vibes of Italy.
The play, written by Roger Hall, is very comedic with many lighthearted left-wing political jokes , telling looks and amusing actions from the characters that portray the characters exactly as they are supposed to be. Firstly, Adrian, played by the brilliant David Stewart-Hunter, was a crucial character in the show, narrating the happenings throughout. Stewart-Hunter worked fluidly alongside his assigned wife Judy, played by Karen Pattinson. Judy and Adrian were an old couple of librarians with a heartbreaking past, and were able to make a real touching impression on the audience. Pattinson, specifically, had a difficult part to play; Judy, an inherently irritating know-it-all librarian was known to inform and fact-check her fellow travel companions consistently. Whilst this character is extremely difficult to portray in a likeable manner, Pattinson successfully made light of these traditionally negative attributes and allowed the audience to feel somewhat sorry for her and her situation.
This character development was seen in both the characters Harry (played by Christopher Pali) and Alison (played by Penny Church) as well. From Harry starting out as an old misogynistic man to Alison being portrayed as your typical gold-digging trophy wife, their story lines lead to the formation of empathy for both parties. Alison’s religious and heartbreaking backstory leads the audience to become more understanding of her self-deprecating humour. As a woman in society where the topics spoken about in Alison’s backstory are extremely topical at this point, I had a deeper connection to her character. Further into the show, everyone’s characters had a brilliant revelation which altered the perspective of the stereotypes that they portrayed closer to the beginning. The actors who played these characters effectively showed these gradual changes through their impressive skills and notable fluidity while working with each other.
My only criticism about this show is that some of the jokes were definitely a little bit aged and tailored towards the older audience, however this didn’t steer away from the actual production values. It was a great, easy-watch show and I would definitely recommend going to experience the delightful essence of the Genesian Theatre. A truly excellent job done by the production team and actors involved.
Four Flat Whites in Italy will be performed at the Genesian Theatre until November 4.