‘Looking For Alibrandi’: Masterful adaptation of a classic Italo-Australian story

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‘Looking For Alibrandi’: Masterful adaptation of a classic Italo-Australian story

Looking for Alibrandi
1 / 7
Words by Maria Dunne
Photography by Jeff Busby and Tamarah Scott

This review was close to my heart.

The film and book were staples of my adolescence. I am a second generation Italo-Australian and grew up with the stories of disconnection with Australian traditions. I distinctly remember inviting friends over from school to a “tomato day” and them believing that my family did this because they couldn’t afford to buy them from the store and making fun of me because of it.

While this story was integral to my development, entering the Malthouse Theatre I questioned whether the story would make such an impact in 2022. After over 30 years since Melina Marchetta’s novel, what made Marchetta say ‘yes’ to this staging?

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It soon became abundantly clear. The Malthouse’s Looking for Alibrandi masterfully creates a vision of the 90s that doesn’t discredit the play’s role in the present day. It follows Josie Alibrandi through the struggles of school, dating and family secrets. Stephen Nicolazzo’s potrayal never feels as if it’s simply rehashing the former portrayals of Josie, it’s thoughtfully adapted by the whole cast.

While the humour of Vidya Rajan’s playwriting shun through the piece, the biggest compliment this adaptation makes to Marchetta’s original work is its development of the intergenerational relationship between Josie (Chanella Macri), Christina Alibrandi (Lucia Mastrantone), and her nonna Katia (Jennifer Vuletic). The connection that’s gradually developed by all three characters is beautifully executed.

The set design and lighting features were subtle, enhancing the ultimate feeling of catharsis. It made me reflect on my identity, and celebrate shared moments with my family. I dare say it will have a similar affect on you too.

Looking for Alibrandi runs at the Malthouse Theatre until July 31. For more information, head here.