Adventure Before Dementia – Four Flat Whites in Italy

With a name like Four Flat Whites in Italy, I knew this play would have an international flavour. Directed by Tui Clark and written by Award-Winning playwright Roger Hall, this show places us as onlookers whilst the narrator, Adrian, portrayed by David Stewart-Hunter, talks to us directly. This works to immediately involve us in Adrian’s world.

Four Flat Whites in Italy is a comedy about a retired couple, librarians Adrian and Alison, played by Penny Church. When their planned trip of a lifetime to Italy faces a hiccup, they seesaw between the decision to cancel the trip or go. During a game of Bridge, when they have their new neighbours over, it’s decided that the four of them will travel together.

Harry, portrayed by Christopher Pali and Judy, played by Karen Pattinson, are as far away in personality from Adrian and Alison as can be. The quibbles begin almost immediately when they arrive in Venice. Some irritations were relatable, and I found myself siding with one character one moment and someone else when another quibble arose. This was thanks to Roger Hall’s clever script and the delivery of all four talented lead actors. Sometimes, all it took was a particular look to elicit laughs from the audience.

Four Flat Whites in Italy

At the beginning of the play, Penny Church’s Alison was so uptight; her body language displayed someone who likes to be in charge. She was organised and had a strong dependency, gripping her Lonely Planet Italy guidebook. As the play progresses, we discover a tragedy that has shaped her and Adrian’s somewhat strained relationship, and she loosens her grip on the guidebook. I wondered whether this was intentional and represented Alison letting go of the past and the need to know what is ahead in life.

David Stewart-Hunter is outstanding as Adrian, mixing roles between narrator and acting in the story. He was a very likable character and felt as though he could have been anyone’s kind grandfather. Harry and Judy worked well as a team, with Christopher Pali and Karen Pattinson ensuring an onstage chemistry. Imran Khaliqi and Kimberlea Smith had strong supporting roles, playing several characters in the play.

The set background was well done, with worn exposed bricks and large columns placing us in Italy. The props were versatile, with two particular props used cleverly when turned in various ways.

This was a very character-driven play with minimal need for extra props in scenes, such as cups to hold or bowls of food brought when the characters were eating. The attention was more on the storyline and the interaction between the four characters.

Act 2 of the play becomes more harmonious as understanding, acceptance, forgiveness and letting go of the past develop. We see all characters soften.

There are some takeaway life messages in Four Flat Whites in Italy. As well as the above, I believe it is listening, really listening to the ones you love, and taking advice from those you may not know well. Everyone can show wisdom and kindness when it is needed. And, of course, one more message – visit Italy and have the trip of a lifetime!

Four Flat Whites in Italy is showing at The Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent St, Sydney.

Season: 14th Oct – 4th Nov 2023
Friday and Saturday nights at 7.30pm
Sunday matinée at 4.30pm
Tickets: Adults $35 / Concession $30 / Groups 10 + $30

Running Time: 2hrs 35mins including 20min interval

This review also appears on It’s On The House, or our checkout more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre Reviews.

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