jacket and frock seem muddy and singed around the hem and cuffs... Behind the brittle smiles, the free-flowing martinis and the delicious banter batted back and forth like a dazzling, gold-plated ping-pong ball, something is very wrong. Blithely interrogating each other in a comically absurd mock trial, they conjure a motley cast of witnesses to the extraordinary marital (and extramarital) events that have shaped their lives and unconventional union. Then the dance music on the RCA turns to static, there's a rumble of ominous thunder, and the couple's bright smiles stretch to breaking point... Who or what are they waiting for?
Floating on cocktails but floundering on regret, infedelity and betrayal, the couple dance on the table even as the ship goes down with no survivors...
... a cocktail of 1930s movie with a dash of Sartre's Huis Clos and Samuel Beckett bitters, this is witty and literate theatre, performed with stiletto sharpness... Even Oscar Wilde would admire its wit and repartee.
An undoubted Edinburgh hit in 2010 with Issy Van Randwyk and David Calvitto, Guy Masterson's 2012 production of Imperial Fizz again starred Stage Best Actor Award Winner (2002) David Calvitto, (Americana Absurdum, Horse Country, The Event, 12 Angry Men) and Stage Award Best Actress Winner (1996) Beth Fitzgerald (Oleanna, Follow Me).
REVIEWS FROM THE ADELAIDE FESTIVAL PRODUCTION 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. (FringeReview Adelaide - Prerna Ashok 25/02/12)
REVIEWS FROM THE ORIGINAL PRODUCTION EDINBURGH FRINGE 2010:
A CLASSY FRINGE PRODUCTION FROM A CLASSY TEAM
Great minds drink alike in Imperial Fizz, a cocktail of 1930s movie with a dash of Sartre's Huis Clos and Beckett bitters. David Calvitto and Issy van Randwyck play the man and the woman, a couple dressed to swill, but whose classy dinner jacket and frock are muddy and singed around the hem and cuffs. Gradually it becomes apparent that behind the brittle smiles, the free-flowing martinis and the banter batted back and forth like a dazzling, gold-plated ping-pong ball that there is something very wrong. The dance music on the radio turns to static, there is a rumble of ominous thunder, and the couple's bright smiles are stretched to breaking point with anxiety. Who or what are they waiting for?
This is a classy fringe production from a classy team, and, as we've come to expect form Brian Parks, the author of Americana Absurdum, this is witty and literate theatre, performed with stiletto sharpness by Calvitto and Van Randwyck. Oscar Wilde would admire its wit and memorable lines. "Absence makes the heart go wander," suggests one of the characters as it slowly emerges that this couple's relationship may be floated on cocktails but has floundered on many different kinds of infedelity and betrayal. Still they dance on and knock back the cocktails, even as the ship goes down with no survivors. (Lynn Gardener, The Guardian.co.uk, 13/8/2010)
Fast-talking 1930s drawing room satire with a twist
Like the spirit of Oscar Wilde (all barbed wit and intricate language) filtered through a dark Lovecraftian sensibility, Imperial Fizz adds an extra ingredient to a classic recipe to delicious effect.
Sophie Fletcher directs American Brian Parks' seemingly light-hearted marital comedy in which a constantly sozzled couple bicker their way through glass after glass of alcoholic concoctions. Issy van Randwyck and David Calvitto deserve an endurance medal for getting their mouths around such lightning fast feats of verbal dexterity, every line hewn from the vastness of the English language with a scalpel's precision.
Yet this glossy facade, which on its own is rich enough to comprise a whole (but very different) play, is the lacquered screen that disguises the real truth. There are inklings that things are not quite right: a shabbiness to the costumes, intrusive static on the wireless. Where at first the couple seem comfortable with their pattern of jibes and jests an element of fear creeps in, jocularity falters and anxious, angry attacks replace playful rehearsed debates. As we learn of an upcoming event the couple expects with trepidation the tone slides from frothy to sinister. The dialogue that once skipped along seems to be trying to outrun their fate, to force comfort with the repetition of the familiar (and a few stiff drinks).
It's a heady experience, a runaway train of words where to drop attention for a line is to miss much. For all the tension, the act of watching is immensely enjoyable rather than fraught. Any social commentary about class or sexual politics is there if you squint, but entertainment is the overriding flavour. Like a well-made cocktail, the constituent elements are indiscernible and the overall effect on the palate delightful. (Suzanne Black, edinburghfestival.list.co.uk, 12/8/2010)