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Four Front Seats at the Ensemble

By Veronika Dillon on September 22, 2011 in Arts

<blank>” title=”four-flat-whites” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”alignright size-full wp-image-7779″/>One always crosses to the Dark Side with trepidation so it was with heavy hearts that three friends and I set off on Friday night to see Four Flat Whites in Italy at the Ensemble Theatre. I know its tedious how people from the Eastern Suburbs give the North Shore a hard time but that’s no reason why this time-honoured tradition shouldn’t be continued right here on this page.</p>
<p>There’s something a little duplicitous about the North Shore, which is why I approach it with such caution. Whilst looking like one of the last bastions of the middle classes the North Shore, particularly the Lower North Shore, is really a hotbed of nasties, the granny killer lurked in the streets of Mosman and just recently they had the collar bomb hoax which closed down streets in the same suburb. In the east of course its different; in the east we know we’re bad, in fact we like being bad, we take pride in it; the worse we are the more we like ourselves but over on the Dark Side they’re not so sure. On the Dark Side there is a deep-seated need to keep up appearances, which is another reason why a visit can be so emotionally exhausting.</p>
<p>Despite the fact that Four Flat Whites In Italy is written by the Essex born New Zealand living Roger Hall he must have secretly spent time studying the Lower North Shore because Four Flat Whites is everything the Lower North Shore would like to be. The characters are all nice, particularly Adrian, played wonderfully by Michael Goss, and, if entered into the Nicest Person in the World competition, would win hands down. I don’t think there could be a nicer man in the world than Adrian the retired librarian. The context of the play is beautifully appropriate, comfortable sunny apartments, evenings playing bridge, holidays to Italy, appreciation of Renaissance art, a philistine’s love of rugby union …. all so Lower North Shore.</p>
<p>There were a few grim little secrets, but not so grim as to make the Lower North Shore audience remember the evil that dwells within. The little secrets, only two, were quite tragic but nothing we couldn’t get over. Money was a potential problem but not so much of a problem that the overseas holiday couldn’t continue. For the most part it was all froth and bubbles; I’d say there was a laugh every three minutes, which, I think, is some kind of formulae for the comic writer. The fact that Roger Hall so obviously succeeded in getting laughs was the major reason this production could be called a good night at the theatre. During one brief scene when our four characters arrive in Venice late at night and spend hours trudging the labyrinthine passageways in search of their hotel the man sitting behind us laughed so hard I thought he was going to be sick. You just knew he and his wife had recently returned from Venice and had exactly that same experience, even down to his wife dragging leopard skin print wheelie suitcases up and down the steps of various bridges.</p>
<p>Four Flat Whites in Italy is just the kind of entertainment one expects at the Ensemble, and aside from Sharon Flanagan playing Alison, who had a little bit of the Eastern Suburbs in her, a little bitter, a little twisted, every one else was just the way Lower North shore types would like to be. In fact if there are men like Adrian living on the Lower North Shore, and they’re not stalking grannies in their off hours, I would recommend that a few of my single friends get themselves across the bridge tout de suite. The fact that all of these men will be married is immaterial; in the same way making snide derogatory comments about the Lower North Shore is compulsory in the Eastern Suburbs, I hear extra-marital affairs are obligatory in the Lower North Shore.</p>
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