Prepare to be swept up in this character comedy packing a ton of laughs, plenty of cheer and great community spirit – dinner and a show with old-world charm.
For Nathaniel Young’s Arrivederci, the story of the local family-run pizzeria, the choice of venue is Newfarm’s Casa Italia and showcases the best aspects of the Anywhere ethos – there’s a feeling of community dinner theatre invoked with (free!) pizza and (cheap!) wine on hand. Charismatic greeters and crew create a light-hearted, welcoming atmosphere to set you at ease, before segueing effortlessly into the play’s introduction.
Within the world of the pizzeria, the focus is on the interactions between caricatured staff and regulars – that is, until a fresh face and some unwanted news enter the scene, creating new dynamics in the relatively safe, simple world the characters inhabit. As egos clash, personal history and interrelations are uncovered and the café is thrown into chaos – always to the entertainment of the audience. Okay, there’s a few corny feel-good moments, sometimes the script meanders in strange directions, and on occasion the space between gags can become overly expository, but it works – considering it’s the creator’s first production, no mean feat. The cast perform well, and despite the extreme personalities required it never feels forced – thankfully even the thickest of Italian accents doesn’t slip. Self-referential and fourth-wall breaking humour help mix up the the character comedy and are extremely well received.
In the play’s second half there is an unfortunate dip into needless, overly serious melodrama, but as with any good comedy there’s a quick return to form, and the few minor problems are overruled by many high points of well crafted, joyous humour. What better review can I give than personal experience – I can’t recall the number of times I had to pause and wipe away tears of laughter. Maybe it was the wine ($3 a glass for the souses out there), but more likely the abundance of heart poured into the piece, proving incredibly endearing.
So simply put, it’s good, very good – a comforting experience, a home cooked meal among friends. I look forward to a second serve!
Reviewed by Jason Lomas
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 15.