A Gap in Generations (1987)
Audiences at this year's Middle School Play were transported to fifteenth century Bolonga for a performance by ”The Affamati Company”, a group of travelling players in the skills of ”commedia dell'arte”, the Italian comedy of that period. The play ”A Gap in Generations”, is a modern but faithful imitation of the style of the famous Italian commedia, as well as a parody of it — and provided enthusiastic audiences with an amusing and entertaining night at the theatre. The dozens of 'extras' — the citizens of Bolonga — gave Adamson Hall an authentic medieval market-place atmosphere as the audience arrived and as well provided an excellent framework for the performance of the ”play-within-the-play”.
The play deals with the perennial gap between parents and children — but the notion of a student agitator and a ”hippie'' in 15th century Bolonga somehow seems delightfully incongruous, and is one of the play's numerous comic sources. All the much-loved characters of the commedia are featured in this modern rendition of an ancient art, and their roles were expertly rendered by a talented cast which displayed an exceptionally mature appreciation of the art of comedy. Their comic timing, exuberance, energy, and appropriate flamboyance in the many farcical situations, were all impressive. Jerome Otton as Panatalone, and Scott Grierson as Tofano, the play's two pivotal characters, gave remarkably well sustained performances and consistently delighted the audience with the antics of these two ludicrous and lusty old men. In addition, there were a number of other well considered performances: David Franzke as the robust Leiio and Guy Wylie as the effete Flavio nicely complemented each other; Revel Gordon was an impressively stentohan Doctor Graziano; Georgia Rakaris and Kathy Home were deliciously devious as the maids manipulating their ladies' fortunes; Adriana Voukelatos was a suitably coy an love-struck Isabella, while Matisse Mitelman was thoroughly convincing as the guiless Vittoria; and as the two popular zannies of the commedia, Arlecchino and Pedrolino, Sonny Adjoran and Simon De Young were engagingly energetic and showed considerable stage presence. Tom Howie and Annette Roth as the Maestro of the Company an his argumentative wife — and their conflict with Anthony Batiste as Captain Spavento, got the proceedings off to a lively start. The large crowd of citizens improvised marvellously on many occasions and created an appropriate verisimilitude.
Dawson Hann and Tony Scanlon collaborated once again to direct the production, and this year were ably assisted by Rachel Haverfield and Zoe Wishart. Tony Scanlon's set was, as usual, meticulous in its attention to detail, and evocative of the atmosphere of a Renaissance university city.
Year after year the Middle School Play is a quality product but has still not yet captured the support among the school community that it so richly deserves.