5 Questions with Ali Aitken and Marcella Franco

Ali Aitken

Marcella Franco: What is your favourite line in the show?
Ali Aitken: There’s no shortage of men, I promise to find you a dozen before evening.

What is the most challenging part of the production?
For me I think it will be remembering which character I am at which point in the play…

What was your first theatre experience?
I developed a love of theatre at a very early age, I remember seeing Christopher Biggins as Winnie The Pooh and Mia Farrow as Peter Pan when I was about 3. The rest, as they say… My first acting role was the lead in a school play about Christopher Columbus when I was six or seven (I always was a bit of a tomboy). The line that’s stayed with me is “I’ll to my books’, no idea why. That and the fact that someone stole my trick dagger.

The entire play takes course over 1 day, what is the craziest day you have ever had?
I think the craziest day I had was one Saturday in Hong Kong – in the morning I performed in a children’s show as part of a festival, raced across town to another theatre where I stage managed a musical, back to do another kids’ show and then stage managed the evening performance. The show I SM’d didn’t know about the other one until the evening performance, it was a bit of a rush to get back and I didn’t have time to take my make up off properly. I was the Lion in The Wizard Of Oz so the make up was quite noticeable!

Of all the food mentioned in the play, which dish is your favourite?
You can’t go past a good roast.

Marcella Franco

Ali Aitken: Who is your favourite character in the show and why?
I know I might be bias, but my character Beatrice Rasponi is my favourite. She is intelligent, cunning, passionate, courageous, ambitious and also compassionate when she needs to be.

What has been your favourite role so far?
Maria from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, I had the pleasure of playing her last year and she is great fun.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done on stage (or screen)?
Wearing an orange sequinned bra and pink feathered shorts, I was making my way to the stage from the dressing room, in full view of the audience, tripped over some chairs, they rolled into other chairs, I quickly then popped back up and a cloud of pink feathers filled the air. What an entrance.

Why should everyone come and see this show?
Besides the fact that it’s hilarious, it’s a show that deals with gender roles, love, family pressures and status. All things which we are still battling in today’s society.

Is this your first experience working in the Commedia Del’Arte style?
I have participated in a workshop before but yes this is my first experience performing Commedia Del’Arte. Trying to take on the physicality, whilst wearing a mask, whilst pretending to be a man has come with it’s challenges but has also been very rewarding.

Ali Aitken and Marcella Franco can be seen in The Servant Of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni.
Dates: 14 – 25 Mar, 2017
Venue: King Street Theatre

The Twins Pantalone (Fools In Progress Inc)

Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Jun 27-29, 2013
Actors: Guillaume Barrière, Bianca Bonino, Nicholas O’Regan, Ben-Jamin Newham, Fabiola Pellegrino

Theatre review
This production with its classic plot and archetypal characters is a delightful introduction into the world of Commedia dell’Arte. Technical issues with lighting and sound plagued the opening night performance, but did not prevent the show from being consistently comical and funny. The cast of five showcases the silliest of comedies, with the most serious of dedication and skill.

Moments of contemporary references and frequent use of modern language is refreshing, making its humour more immediate and accessible. Nicholas O’Regan is a stand-out performer, with his energy and agility, as well as a keen sense of timing. His use of facial expressions is impressive, considering the masks cover most of the players’ faces. O’Regan, along with Barrière worked with sexual innuendo effectively, and can be very hilarious depending on your personal tastes and capacity for off-colour humour.


The Unthinkably Unsinkable Ship (Fools In Progress Inc)

commedia1Venue: King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW), Jun 20-22, 2013
Actors: Guillaume Barrière, Bianca Bonino, Ross Brown, Scott Parker

Theatre review
Commedia dell’Arte is today a rare art form, especially in Australia where conformity in the arts (and everywhere else) is order of the day. This production’s attempts at creating laughter within a tradition of forgotten rules and atypical disciplines, instead of resorting to the common and crass is laudable.  It is indeed that lost discipline with its specific sense of humour and use of classical physical movement and masks, that is the most interesting feature of this show.

The overall direction is kept casual, allowing the play’s performers to distinctly showcase their individual skills and training. Especially Guillaume Barrière and Bianca Bonino, who present an unconventional form of comedy that is simultaneously restrained and effervescent. The rest of the cast is also delightful, each given appropriate space for expression, allowing them to utilise their own idiosyncrasies to create characters that move the plot along.

Lighting design however, could have been more helpful in preventing each scene from looking and feeling too similar. Costume is surprisingly effective, with every article of clothing serving a purpose in illustrating character types and also in providing actors with additional creative devices.

It is a great merit of the theatrical arts that personalities from distinct backgrounds can collide and collaborate. It is at the theatre that moments can be concocted on a singular stage that is completely otherwordly and outside of the ordinary life.