Mr Affogato by Full Tilt Performance Troupe.The Street Theatre Studio 8.30 pm April 29 - May 9, 1998.
Whatever you do in the next week, you should not miss this engaging, beguiling story of two hospitality venues, head-to-head in competition. The Cafe Affogato is never relaxed and comfortable and it is unlikely you will actually receive the caffe latte you hope for. But you are quite likely to win a glass of beer from Mr Tattaglia's Romany Bar. Just make sure you sit at one of the front tables. Mind you, expect to be kissed, have a hair from your very own head used to commit love's suicide, dance with a philosopher and hide a fearful soldier under your chair.
Thoroughly modern commedia dell'arte is a rare and wonderful thing - and here it is in central Canberra. One television channel which will remain nameless announced on opening night that commedia is half a century old - half a millenium, more like, still energetic, full of verbal and physical tumbling and creating continuous laughter. In a kind of children's theatre for adults, director Tony Kishawi and actors Danny Diesendorf, Robin Davidson and Mark Johnson have discovered the art in commedia, using the traditional Italian characters to comment on our lives - and the first night's highly sophisticated audience of theatricals loved it from the first Once Upon a Time.
There will be an important announcement, which will raise a great cheer, from the High Court to say that the nasty bosses have been defeated by the absolutely justified workers; and Death once again will be cheated by the power of Arlecchino's violin - but only after an agonising period of dramatic terror, when Mr Affogato gains an injunction against the playing of music at the rival Romany (read Gipsy) Bar.
I never quite worked out what happened to the Lovers, but I think they remained unrequited. The Demon did amazing handstands on a pocket handkerchief stage. The Captain waved his sword alarmingly. The Doctor (lawyer and philosophical pedant) spoke sparklingly. Mr Punch threatened terribly, but unctuously flattered his customers. And all eleven characters were played at Full Tilt by the three actors, with startling transformations. Well worth a muggacino!
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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