The plot unfolds in and around the White Village, a real Greek restaurant in Elsternwick, over the course of one hectic night. The challenge of keeping the show on the road falls to the grizzled but still energetic owner Kostas, played with abundant charisma by well-known Greek actor Vangelis Mourikis (Chevalier).
The Taverna is billed as a black comedy, and the increasingly over-the-top action does spark some laughs. But Tsilimidos, whose past works have concentrated on subjects such as homelessness and drug addiction, is hardly a natural farceur.
His instinct is to push situations towards drama, sometimes in surprising ways. Belly-dancer Jamila (Rachel Kamath) is embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-husband (Peter Paltos) – and while we’re evidently meant to be on her side, she’s not the straightforward heroine she seems at first.
This edginess is a strength on the whole, though it can lead to uncertainty about how we should react to certain plot twists – especially at the climax, which moves into thriller territory before backpedalling fast.