Three Women in an Ice Cream Cone, the first play by Scottish
singer/song writer Elizabeth Fotheringham and directed by award
winning director Nadia Tass is set mainly in an Italian café/shop in
London. It revolves around the proprietor Gino and the three women in
his life who daily visit the ‘Cone shop’. The three women are as
different as the gelati Gino sells: Alice (Nathalie Pownall), the
flirt who works at the hair salon opposite, Grace (Charlotte Newton
John]) the blond seamstress who is in love with Gino and Linda (Barbara
Drennan) the older woman, a hardworking teacher who lives alone.
We are introduced to Gino (Jason Nicoli) posturing and preening alone
in the café. Nicoli is a great performer and oozes charm. As Gino he
hams up the stereotypical Italian to great comic effect. He works
particularly well with his brother Luigi (Jai Armstrong) and their
rendition of ‘That’s Amore’ is one of the highlights of the night.
There is also postman (Felix Pring, as well as dropping off Alice’s
parcels at the café, brings in news and gossip. He is a minor
character but gets some of the biggest laughs especially with his
confusion when Gino bids him ‘arivaderchi’ and he can only just about
muster ‘ta ra’.
Designer Kimberly Meikle resisted flashing the period pieces instead
opting for a more authentic feel. The net curtain, jukebox and
essential espresso maker transport us to 50's London. But the short
scenes of the play do not flow together very well and numerous
unnecessary set changes are clunky and distracting.
Writer Fotheringham’s characters are all very 2D and the three women
especially are played out like a pastiche of retro films. Grace,
clearly a nod to the Hitchcock blond is independent and dignified;
Alice, Rizzo from Grease is overtly sexual and out of control; and Linda who
has all the clipped restraint of Celia in Brief Encounter. The cast is
excellent and fine comic performances pull them over, but the play’s
weaknesses are revealed when it attempts to delve a bit deeper into
the darkness and violence of 50s London.
Despite the weaknesses of the play Three Women in an Ice Cream
Cone is a joy to watch, a blend of Dean Martin, 50’s London and
Italian stereotypes stuck into a cone.