Review by James Robertson
A new play that’s as much about ice cream as it is not, “The Wonderful Life of Carlo Gatti” is a must-see new production from Theater Works, a beautiful, touching and thought-provoking play that will leave you enthralled by the magic of human connection.
Written by Cassandra-Elli Yiannacou and directed by Chris Hosking, The wonderful life of Carlo Gatti takes advantage of Theater Works new site, the explosives factory.
A much smaller black box theatre, the Explosives Factory lends itself wonderfully to new work like this and I hope to see this venue champion more work like this. Seated in front of a raised stage, chairs and bookcases, the stage was immediately set for a show that didn’t hesitate to connect with its audience.
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Following the lives of three unlikely friends, the play begins with a disillusioned psychologist in 2017, played by Shamita Siva, and an Elton John-obsessed physicist in 1983, played by El Kiley, seemingly bonded by the inexplicable presence of a neighbor playing Liszt on the piano upstairs. Thanks to the inexplicable nature of time, something a physicist finds difficult to turn away from, the two meet on the roof of their apartment to meet the character of Connor Dariol, a Victorian pianist who, although he lies before them, has been dead for a very long time.
Seemingly disparate elements melodically intertwine and meld together, while elements from classical music, quantum physics and ice cream history somehow combine in elucidating and complex ways. – all of which are a joy to watch. As strange as these concepts are, this show is, at its heart, a story about loneliness and finding your people: how creating your own family can give your life new purpose. Yiannacou creates such beautiful, uplifting moments, ones that I wish I could describe as they continue to stick in my mind, but are made all the more heartbreaking by the tragedy that ensues.
The top three comes to life wonderfully. Connor Dariol’s quaint cuteness speaks volumes about his character, with beautiful moments of comedy delivered with precision. El Kiley plays the character of the physicist with all the dizzying awkwardness that a hardcore Elton John fan cannot hide. The satiated psychologist that Shamita Siva offers us constitutes a wide range of emotions, hidden under a casual air. Locked together, these actors bring the play’s many ensemble moments to life: this is where the performance really shines.
Fascinatingly written and well-executed The wonderful life of Carlo Gatti is a black comedy that should be seen by all lovers of new theater. Untold history and dense scientific jargon abound, but ultimately this show will leave you in full knowledge of the power of human connection.
The wonderful life of Carlo Gatti until August 13, buy your tickets here.