The Italians

Rebecca Varidel
28th Oct 2022

Brash, Ballsy and Brilliant! New play, The Italians provides its Belvoir Street Downstairs audience with not only literally laugh a minute chortles but also provides a program guide to what's playing Upstairs - that 'other' Italian play...

Overblown mimics of two extended Italian familie come a bit too close to home for some of those watching the play. There's a moment when the nonna (Philip D’Ambrosio in drag) is a mirror of one in the front row. And the Belvoir Downstairs audience never stop laughing.

Even as a non-Italian (lucky they let me in), I got most of the 'jokes' and had to make sure I remembered to breathe between belly laughs. For some perhaps I didn't get the full scoop (please forgive me even though that's our name). Maybe it's because I'm not even Catholic!

Now, I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil it for all to come. As for sure, though this is an of-this-moment covid Albo vaping show, The Italians will still be sure at some stage to have another longer run. Well, in my humble opinion, it deserves it.

The Italians is a brand new Aussie classic drawing upon all its Italian North vs South rivalry, with barrel loads of Italian-Australian local details.

No topic is taboo. The Madonna presents herself. So religion is covered. So is money, wealth, property, success and all that it means to two boys from different Italian backgrounds when they are deep into a relationship approaching proposal. No. No one mentioned - Mafia!

Grace Deacon sets the scene. Her set and costume design are eye gogglingly good and transport us from inner west to the western suburbs, from nylon to style.

Our show, with standby Nic English delivered an equally strong cast in these over the top, bigger than life, Italians although my favourite moment is when veteran actor Tony Poli is snoring. Sitting on the bench, head slightly nodded, it reminds me of a Sicilian travel shot. But he couldn't be Sicilian, Tony's character is from Milano. Any way he is the pivot point on the family of dancing singing and smoking talent. Then there's the outstanding, out of this world, over the top character award - which goes to Emma O'Sullivan. Who knew a gun-in-the-suspender toting donna fatale could be so compelling? Funny awards to Amy Hack (nice splits) and Philip D’Ambrosio (all three). Yes we loved the writer in his stage role as Sal and his love interest Brandon Scane as Joe. Even when they were fighting. Deborah Galanos had us sorted, she even gave me and the other onlookers an Italian biscuit before the show. That's what Italian mother do. They feed you.

Playwright Danny Ball explains that The Italians is "a chaotic rally for a reconnection to culture" yet it neither looks back and not really forward. It's a moment in time. One snapshot or rather many, as the picture postcards (or should we say instagram posts) span Riverside Theatre dance contests, to car chases and attempted (or is it?) armed robbery. It's a snapshot of now. One that this onlooker adored.

Beyond the Italian rhetoric, this play is all about contemporary suburban Australia, albeit it's the Western Suburbs. And that I do know. Yeup, writer and actor Danny Ball, director Riley Spadaro, cast and creatives got it! Unearthed among the laughs is also all sorts of variations in Australian family life. And priorities to ponder.

The Italians is marvellous entertainment!

The Italians by new production company Malocchio Production Company with a focus on Italian-Australian productions, is performaning at Belvoir Street Downstairs until 6 November 2022.

The Italians was developed with the assistance of a bAKEHOUSE 2020 Residency at Kings Cross Theatre.