Adelaide Fringe 2012
A couple living in 1920s New York reminisce about the good times and bad, with classic cocktails starting, ending, or contributing to the recounts. They banter, throw puns and double entendres at each other, dance, sing and mix cocktails as the audience wonders about their relationship, and whether the night will end in tears or laughter.
On a dark and stormy night a couple prepares themselves for a party, exchanging repartee and invectives as one would among close friends. Then, they reveal their intimate relationship—their marriage, honeymoon, their long-lost son, hopes and dreams. This is where the play becomes darker—there is something ominous coming their way and they want to be prepared and greet it with bright smiles and cocktails in hand. The play continues in alternating shades of dark and light. With every cocktail another secret or bout of honesty is spilled. Throughout the play cocktails are mixed, stirred and shaken, the radio crackles out tunes and melodies, all of which prompt another story to be told, where the cocktail features heavily and more often than not, disastrously.
The dialogue is classic 1920s banter and good-natured, with subtle wit, puns and double entendres garnishing every line. David Calvitto and Beth Fitzgerald delivered the script brilliantly with only a few stumbles that did not detract from their rapport. The two sparkled and effervesced, and maintained their characters throughout the play. Calvitto played the good-natured, doting husband with a penchant for ‘chemistry’, defining words, and the admirable skill of deflecting insults with a laugh and cutting remark flung back. Fitzgerald was the equally spirited, but fiery wife, who was vulnerable at the best of times but maintained her facetiousness and pride.
The staging and design was simple, but effective. There were no more nor less props than required, with the radio providing ambient music, and a well stocked bar with authentic liquors, mixers and garnishes. The lighting was well timed and effectively drew attention to the performers, while also adding to the ambience. The audience was quite receptive throughout the show, laughing when appropriate and even applauding lightly in between. Once the relationship between the two characters had been established it was interesting to see where the night would end and whether it would end in tears or laughter. This particular play ended like a well-mixed martini—on an elegantly satisfying note.
This play showcased the best and worst of the 1920s—the performers took us through the glitz and glamour of high-society, as well as the darkness of their own lives. The dialogue was fast-paced, but easy to keep up with, and the dark elements avoided overshadowing the mood with wit and composure. The play allowed the audience to make their own deductions without obvious signs, and this had a greater impact. It was a superb show with humour as the base, a dash of whimsy and a splash of glamour all shaken up, and garnished with a cherry.