Arts Review

The Centenary Theatre Group presents Four Flat Whites in Italy

The Centenary Theatre Group presents Four Flat Whites in Italy

Written by Roger Hall
Directed by Rhyll Bucknell

23rd Feb-10th March 2024


Dr Gemma Regan


The Centenary Theatre Group’s presentation of Four Flat Whites in Italy is a condensed microcosm of the tribulations of life bundled into a comical trip around Italy. 


Written by Kiwi Roger Hall, two retired couples from New Zealand embark on the trip of a lifetime to Italy, intent on having the adventure before the dementia! The retired librarians Adrian and Alison are excited and ready for their momentous trip with their friends, with a packed cultural itinerary and the Lonely Planet Guide full of recommendations. However, a last-minute change to travel companions when one of their friends breaks his ankle, have new neighbours Harry, a retired plumber, and his sexy secretary and wife, Judy as last-minute replacements.


The two couples vary in interests, budgets and politics, causing bickering and friction as they visit Venice, Rome and Tuscany. Harry is brash, laconic and uncultured, whilst his younger wife only wants to shop, relax and look pretty. Their idea of a holiday is relaxing with luxurious food and drink whereas bookish Adrian and Allison want to see the sights and absorb the culture on a budget, causing the inevitable clashes.


The Centenary Theatre Group present an amusing interpretation of the turbulent trip with two actors playing the shy and phlegmatic Adrian. Paul McGibbon is Adrian and the narrator, providing his perspective on the trip as the story progresses whilst on stage the whole time. He was a late replacement due to illness and is articulate and expressive as he gives Adrian’s perspective of the events. 


Calvin Smith is the knock-kneed, poorly dressed and hen-pecked Adrian who suffers from his conservative, bossy wife Alison (Alison Lees). She is convincing as the walking guidebook and whip-cracker, insisting on early starts and cramming in the culture. 


Harry and Judy are played by a real married couple, Brian and Meg Hinselwood, which adds a tender familiarity to their relationship. Brian seems to depend on his wife Meg for line feeds which, rather than distracting from the storyline, adds a genuine flavour to their portrayal as man and wife, including the playful flirting.


The many incidental Italian characters are interpreted throughout admirably by Julie Collins and Erik de Wit. Collins is a Bed and Breakfast owner, a bolshy waitress, a fashionista and even a Contessa, playing each incidental role with aplomb. De Wit is the ubiquitous Italian waiter, a beggar and a charming Count with an O! Both provide a comical relief to the tensions between the two couples, who are ready to erupt like Vesuvius as they argue over unfairly splitting bills.


The simple format works well under the direction of Rhyll Bucknell, with a partitioned set and good use of the multimedia screen to recreate the paintings at the galleries and set the scenes.


As we’ve all had the holiday from hell, travelling with people you can’t stand, mixed-up hotel bookings, late flights and pickpockets. The incidents will resonate with the audience. The turbulent trip is anything but relaxing. Will it all erupt, or will new friendships be forged after dark revelations? 


Four Flat Whites in Italy is an enjoyable and entertaining play which will have you uncomfortably squirming with frustration as they each make the usual tourist mistakes. It is particularly recommended viewing for anyone planning a post-COVID overseas trip or considering travelling with friends!



Quick Listens

Les Jobson from Dreamkillers - teaser interview

Sasha Čuha: about 'Svetozar!' & electric gusle

4ZZZ's radio drama 'Connie' by Joel Quick

4ZZZ's radio drama 'Morph' by Kathryn Rothe

Opera at 4ZZZ with Milijana Nikolic, mezzo-soprano & Rosario La Spina, tenor

Eurovision Song Contest 2021 - review by Blair Martin

Gina Vanderpump - Miss Sportsman Hotel

4ZZZ's 45th Birthday special by Alex Oliver

Jack Vidgen - Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020

Jaguar Jonze - Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020

Mitch Tambo - Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020

Didirri - Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020

iOTA - Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020

RICHARD BELL The Venice Biennale EMBASSY 2019 4ZZZ Radio

OZONE Radio Play #001: Dog Park

Bloods Interview

Christopher Port on the New Releases Show

Didirri on Zedgeist


TRAILS takeover 4ZZZ Alphabet Soup PART 2

TRAILS takeover 4ZZZ Alphabet Soup PART 1

Port Royal performing "One of a Kind" live on 4ZZZ Alphabet Soup

Port Royal on Alphabet Soup


Dark Essence interview with Pop Will Eat Itself

Marc of Fingerless interview with Linda Dark on Alphabet Soup Pt 2

Marc of Fingerless interview with Linda Dark on Alphabet Soup Pt 1


Queer Radio interview with Jayde Westaby, "Tanya" in "Mamma Mia"

Queer Radio interview with Ian Stenlake, "Sam" in "Mamma Mia"