Sunday, December 20, 2015

CARA CARISSIMA



Written by Geoff Page
Directed by Tanya Gruber
The Acting Company in association with Shadow House Pits
The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre to December 20

Review by Len Power 17 December 2015

‘Cara Carissima’ by Canberra poet, Geoff Page, is a delightfully quirky one hour play in verse.  Set in a Canberra coffee bar, we eavesdrop on an unhappily married senior public servant (Peter Robinson) and his recently-single executive assistant (Cara Irvine).  His wife (Nikki-Lyn Hunter) and her sister (Kate Blackhurst) also meet for coffee there and the barrista (Bruno Galdino) observes their interactions and keeps us informed of developments.

Cara Irvine as the executive assistant gives a standout performance.  With her nicely judged playing of a woman keeping her emotions just under control, she is totally believable.  Peter Robinson gives an appealing, naturalistic performance as the senior public servant, providing much of the humour in the show as he flounders in his dealings with the three women.  Nikki-Lyn Hunter is effectively edgy as the bitter wife and Kate Blackhurst is a strong presence as the wife’s sister.  As the all-knowing barrista, Bruno Galdino is quite impressive.  He’s charming to his customers but there’s a creepy insincerity under the surface.

Tanya Gruber has directed the show with great attention to detail in the characterizations.  On a simple coffee shop set, designed by Charlotte Stewart, it plays very well in the round.  The director has ensured that the actors handle the reading of the verse effectively.  Much of the humour of the play works because of the rhythm of the verse.

Geoff Page has written a compelling slice of life with good characters and a story we can all relate to and enjoy.

This review was first published in Canberra City News digital edition on 18 December 2015.  Len Power's reviews can also be heard on artsound FM's 'Artcetera' program from 9.00am Saturdays.

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