A man goes to Florence. He takes pictures of the city with his new camera. Getting stuck for subjects, he takes photos of doorbells. Eventually he writes short stories to accompany each photo. Those stories and photos are turned into a book. That book is turned into a play. That play is The Doorbells of Florence. And though that's not the ending, the story of these stories is so far a happy and enjoyable one, like this production.
It's a story-telling evening told direct to audience, drawn straight from the book so look away now if you're wanting an adaptation full of meaningful dialogue and complex character interaction. What you get instead is a strong visual influence in the set and the projections of the doorbell photos, recreating an abstract of Florentine scenery and atmosphere. The hazy, misty lighting between stories recalls the romance of this city and the sense that adventures can be found by simply looking at the door nearest to you.
The two actors, in Chaplin-esque monochrome silent movie garb indulge in cod-Commedia dell'Arte clowning, dancing (comically) and playing (clownishly) with the props, balancing the words of the evening with a bit of silent physicalised relief. The tales themselves alternate between whimsy, adventure, comedy and mystery - the inconsistency between stories is part of the charm, if you allow yourself to be charmed by it. And allow yourself to be charmed; resisting its simplicity, asking more of the production is futile. Just sit back, watch and listen. This is a production sticking to the convictions of its constituent parts: the photos, the stories and the theatre staging just want you to look, watch and enjoy some simple stories. And the doorbells? The doorbells want you to press and enter - so do. Something pleasant awaits you.
The Doorbells of Florence @ The Rosemary Branch Theatre, until 31 May. For more information and tickets, go to the Rosemary Branch Theatre website.