Four Flat Whites in Italy

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

03/09/2011 - 07/10/2011

Production Details

Written by Roger Hall
Directed by Ross Jolly


Roger Hall’s hugely successful, sell-out hit comedy returns – just in time to provide a fun night full of laughs to add to the excitement of the Rugby World Cup. Four Flat Whites in Italy is the perfect night out for friends, family and out-of town visitors, and some of the usual performance times have been changed to work around Cup events. 

Four Flat Whites in Italy    Opens in CIRCA ONE,  Saturday 2nd spetember 8pm 

Venice! Rome! Tuscany!

It’s 2007 and guide book in hand, retired librarians Alison and Adrian, are excitedly embarking on their long-awaited (and carefully saved-for) Italian trip of a life-time. But when their best friends pull out at the last minute, they find themselves sharing their precious holiday with their neighbours – Harry, a wealthy plumber and his new wife Judy.

As these delightfully mismatched couples valiantly negotiate the pit-falls of a later-in-life OE it’s not just the Italians the intrepid travellers have to deal with – it’s also each other!

Adrian and Alison have a dark secret that is causing them some strife and Harry, who loves his rugby, has a dream. But there are surprises in store!

Will the trials and tribulations of their cherished Italian sojourn prove a ‘make or break’ for our Kiwi quartet? Will the holiday be heaven or hell, or both?

Blending cracker one-liners with lots of laughs and astute observation Four Flat Whites in Italy is classic Roger Hall, as he again deftly satirizes our manners, morals, loves and lusts in this highly entertaining treat.

This return season of FOUR FLAT WHITES sees some fabulous new faces in the line-up, bringing together a great cast of talented Kiwi actors. Stuart Devenie and Darien Takle have come down from Auckland (and ATC) especially to reprise their much-loved roles of Adrian and Alison. Tim Gordon returns as Harry and is joined by Vivien Bell (from Centrepoint) as Judy. Simon Vincent is again enjoying playing multiple Italians, and Heather O’Carroll is getting into the spirit of La Bella Italia!

“Laugh out loud comedy … with tugs on the heartstrings” -CapTimes 

Roger Hall’s

Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington 
$25 SPECIALS – Friday 1st September – 8pm;   Sunday 3rd September – 4pm.
AFTER SHOW FORUM – Tuesday 5th September

Performance times:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – 6.30pm
Saturday 8pm
(except 24 Sept – 6.30pm); Sunday 4pm;
Matinee – Wednesday 5 Oct – 2pm – Audio Described performance
Ticket Prices:  Adults – $46; Concessions – $38;
Friends of Circa – $33
Under 25s – $25;  Groups 6+ – $39
BOOKINGS: Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Phone 801 7992 








Lighting Design:  PHILLIP DEXTER

Costume Design:  GILLIE COXILL


Stage Manager: Eric Gardiner

Technical Operator: Deb McGuire

Sound: Jeremy Cullen, Ross Jolly

Publicity: Claire Treloar

Graphic Design: Rose Miller, Parlour

Photography: Stephen A’Court

House Manager: Suzanne Blackburn

Box Office Manager: Linda Wilson


Kiwi foibles and mores expertly exposed

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 07th Sep 2011

With the Rugby World Cup fast approaching many non-rugby events are taking place that have some rugby connection, albeit often rather tenuous. Circa Theatre’s return season of Roger Hall’s Four Flat Whites in Italy is one such example with the All Blacks infamous defeat to the French in the last rugby world cup at the climax of the play, though it is also hoped that by referring to something most rugby fans would prefer to forget is not tempting fate.

The actual match in question is at the end of a trip to Italy in 2007 that Adrian and Alison, a pair of retired librarian’s, have planned for some time. Their original travelling companions can’t go so their neighbours Harry and Judy offer to go with them. Harry is a plumber and Judy is his vivacious second wife. As well as hardly knowing each other the couples are far apart socially, culturally and politically, their differences soon becoming apparent as they sight see through Venice and Rome then end up for a week in a villa in Tuscany.

Much of the play is quintessential Hall, commenting on the foibles and social mores of retired kiwis, often with pin-prick accuracy and going places most audience members will identify with.

For this return season Stuart Devenie and Darien Takle have been brought in to reprise their roles of Adrian and Alison from other NZ productions of the play. The fact that the two have worked together in these roles before is obvious by the way each is so in tune with each other, creating a highly believable couple, married but living separate lives. The synergy these two have developed becomes particularly evident in the hurt and pain shown as they confront their demons in the final moments of the play. 

Devenie is a master of dead-pan, self-deprecating dialogue, his facial expression through a pause and look saying more than a page of dialogue. Tackle is also excellent as his uptight, fastidious wife, her vulnerability always evident again also making great use of a telling look or gesture. 

Tim Gordon returns with great gusto from the original Circa production as the abrasive, foul-mouthed Harry and Vivien Bell turns in a good performance as his brash wife Judy giving what could be a superficial character some depth. Simon Vincent and Heather O’Carroll play a myriad of Italian personage’s with great dexterity, Vincent’s Count the epitome of suave sophistication.

On John Hodgkins functional set that serves the production well, director Ross Jolly maintains the production at a good pace, the multitude of scenes flowing seamlessly one to another. And while the first half is a little like the white coffees of the title, a little flat, more to do with the writing than anything, the energy certainly picks up in the second half and the climax of the play, like the fervour of a crowd at a rugby match when the All Black’s win, really comes alive. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Winning game plan: rugby, coffee and travel

Review by Maryanne Cathro 04th Sep 2011

Two flat whites in Wellington tottered along to the opening night of this return season. Reprised to take advantage, I assume, of the Rugby World Cup crowd being drawn in by its famous playwright and strong ties to the 2007 Cup in France.  

The parallels between this show and rugby are too good to leave unspoken. A rugby team does not just perform for one season, it returns year after year. Why let a good play languish on one season only?

Rugby has rules that one must not break lest the ref send thee off. The interest in rugby is not to discover the game itself but how it will play out within its own conventions THIS time. A Roger Hall play rarely steps out of Hall’s rules to go offside and explore something different or unpredictable. We don’t go to see a Hall with any other expectation – in fact I imagine this is why the country is full of people who only ever go to a theatre if Roger Hall wrote the play, just as there are many, many who will never see a netball, soccer or hockey game, only rugby. 

A team line up will change but stalwarts will remain year after year. This production has drawn together talented actors reprising their roles from previous productions with the Auckland Theatre Company (here), Centrepoint (here) and Circa (here) – only one appears to be new to the play this time around. 

The plot of this play is as true to Roger Hall’s formula for success as a sport is to its rules. Two middle aged couples – married librarians Adrian (actor: Stuart Devenie, position: Outside Centre) and Alison (actor: Darien Takle, position: Tightarsed Prop); retired plumber Harry (actor: Tim Gordon, position: Right Wing) and his wife Judy (actor: Viven Bell, position: Openhearted Flanker) go to Italy where their opposing values and approaches to life keep the ball moving most of the time. They are aided by Props Heather O’Carroll and Simon Vincent, who play everyone else. 

Every professional engaged in this production plays their position fabulously – the actors capture the characters succinctly and masterfully, the set is fabulous, the lighting everything it needs to be, but for me the flat white itself is fairly bland. Persistently stopping the play like a ref’s whistle is Adrian’s character talking to the audience. A little of this would have been great but it makes for a boring game, er play. In rugby, the after play analysis would have picked this up and sorted it out for next time. This is where the analogy no longer tracks, as the fault is in the script, not the production.

I am sure that those Hall followers who never miss a game went home delighted, seeing their team deliver yet again. Any first time theatre goers or Hall virgins would have been delighted by the moments of humour and insight seen with fresh eyes.

For those of us who yearn for a running game or maybe a fresh espresso (pick your metaphor), I recommend they save their ticket price, especially if times are hard, and instead of attending this test match, to head club side instead – go see a community theatre production of one of Hall’s brilliant earlier plays for half the price.

But, it is a play about Kiwis and it involves rugby, coffee and travel. Irresistible. And Circa’s production is very, very good. So good that for most, the faults I have dwelled upon here will probably go unchallenged. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Heather OCarroll September 5th, 2011

However theatre may well be doomed when reviewers advise audiences not to go and see productions despite admitting that they are very, very good.  Just saying.

Ernest Scribbler September 5th, 2011

 Paul: Once, not twice, Slouching, not Sloping, and He not Te,.

But otherwise, agreed.

(Don't you have a rugby tournament to jinx?) 

Paul McLaughlin September 5th, 2011

 Theatre as a whole is not doomed. Some great work is out there, but just not so mainstream - the excellent Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Glorious, He Reo Aroha, The Factory. Lotsa people working hard, keeping it real.

James Levy September 4th, 2011

Great review Maryanne, seems that this production is better than the tacky Court  one  ...last- two? years ago. I sat and watched it and wanted to kill myself. The elderly audience cackled and loved it, and I wondered if this is New Zealand theatre, what is the point.

Seems that the new Court will open with some new Hall play about geriatrics who take up folk dancing. That, ladies and gents, is why theatre is doomed.

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