Four Flat Whites in Italy – Therry Theatre

Four Flat Whites in Italy – Therry Theatre

Therry Theatre’s quality production of “Four Flat Whites in Italy” is a gentle comedy about two couples enjoying the proverbial ‘holiday of a lifetime’ as they head off to Europe to ‘get some culture’ and spend their hard-earned cash after a lifetime of work. If you have done that pilgrimage yourself, then you already know most of the script:  it is full of one-liners about travel misfortunes and irritations, and its funny. You are guaranteed to chortle throughout the play, even in its darker moments, and there are a few.


‘Adrian’ (played by Lindsay Dunn) and ‘Alison’ (Sue Wylie) are about to head off on their much-anticipated holiday, but their travelling companions have had to cancel.  So as not to put the whole trip at risk, they invite two other friends ‘Harry’ and ‘Judy’ (Frank Cwiertniak, and Anita Zamberlan Canala) to join them, and off they head. But Adrian and Alison are quite different to Harry and Judy, and soon there is ‘friction’ between the two couples.


Director Kerrin White has demonstrated his ample skill by bringing together a talented cast that is well suited to both the style of the play and to their respective characters.  Under White’s direction, the cast does not play it for laughs.  Rather, and wisely, they let the down-to-earth and unsophisticated text do the talking, and they don’t try to embellish it beyond what it can carry.  They are clever about it, and the result is a delightfully humorous production.


Dunn almost underplays Adrian, and many lines are delivered deadpan.  This is deliberate, and the result is an immensely likeable character. Dunn’s character often speaks directly to the audience, almost as a narrator, and he does it very well as he effortlessly switches backwards and forwards between speaking in the first and third person.  Wylie carefully draws out Alison’s complexity and inner demons, and it’s a pleasure to watch it unfold.  Her diction is laudable. Cwiertniak plays Harry with just the right amount of  cockiness and unshakeable confidence, but he also makes him infectiously affable and agreeable.  You can’t help but like him.  Zamberlan Canala imbues Judy with joie de vivre as she embodies her maxim that a dollar saved (at her stage of life) is a dollar wasted! However, there is little that is shallow about Judy, and Zamberlan Canala draws out Judy’s essential kindness and compassion with deft skill.  Nothing schmaltzy , just let the text do the talking.


The cast is rounded out with Rose Harvey and Sam Wiseman who play multiple roles, and they do it convincingly.  They sufficiently differentiate their various roles to make one forget about the doubling.  Well done.


First-time tourists in Europe who are keen to see it all often wearily complain about ABC – “another bloody cathedral” – and playwright Roger Hall has probably fallen into the same trap by including a few too many examples of what can go wrong or irritate while touring.  As a result, the pace of the play is little unvaried at times, but it all serves to draw out the stark contrast between the two couples, which is the anchor for the play’s humor.  The narrative clearly resonates with the audience, and they lap it up and laugh along as they are reminded of the joys of finding only one coat hanger in the wardrobe in their lodgings, and not enough toilet paper, or the tension you experience in deciding to split the restaurant bill down the middle but ‘they’ clearly ate and drunk much more than you, or ‘they’ constantly check their mobile phones and check in with the family back at home, and so on.  Oh yes, the memories…… but it was fun …… wasn’t it?


Designed by White and Don Oswald, the single set effectively depicts the various localities that our intrepid tourists visit.  The use of a trucked structure to depict both a Venetian bridge as well as a gondola works particularly well.  Richard Parkhill’s lighting is effective, especially in the last ‘party’ scene, and the choices of costume successfully underline the differences between the characters and show who has money, and who doesn’t.  All other elements support this quality production.

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This production was reviewed by:

Kym Clayton
Kym Clayton
Kym is passionate about the arts and has been involved in community theatre for more than 40 years. He has directed numerous productions across a range of companies and occasionally ‘treads the boards’. He is a regular reviewer for The Barefoot Review, and is a member of The Adelaide Critics Circle. He is a graduate of the Arts Management program at the University of South Australia and enjoys working with a range of not-for-profit arts organizations including Galleon Theatre Group and Recitals Australia.

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