10th – 13th November 2004
Don’t Dress for Dinner is a frenetic case of mistaken identity with more twists than a corkscrew. When Jacqueline decides to visit her mother for a few days, her husband Bernard sees an opportunity for a cozy weekend with his new mistress. His bachelor pal Robert calls to announce his return from Hong Kong, so Bernard invites him along as his alibi, also hiring a Cordon Bleu-level cook to cater a delicious dinner. But when Jacqueline realizes Robert is coming for a visit everything changes, and the high speed farce begins! One impossible situation leads to another as the hapless friend Robert finds himself the target of both amorous attention and wrathful vengeance, while Bernard tries desperately to salvage a scrap of illicit bliss from the wreckage of a weekend.
Newbury Weekly News review
Guessing to the end
One can expect a farce to have all the usual ingredients of an extra-marital relationship, mistaken identities, compromised innocent parties, business with clothing, numerous doors and a soda siphon. This needs to be handled skilfully, which was certainly the case with the Compton Players with their most enjoyable performance of Marc Camoletti’s play. Maintaining a good pace throughout, the cast kept us on our toes, and with plenty of laughter, as we followed the twists and turns as the situation, and their relationships became more and more complicated. Bernard, played by Paul Shave, remained calm as the chaos developed around him and he involved Dave Hawkins’ Robert in his schemes, forcing him into very awkward situations. Both men handled the delivery of the complex, yet dubiously plausible explanations very well and earned deserved applause from the appreciative audience. Helen Saxton produced some excellently-timed comedy in the character of Suzette, especially with her frequent demands for 200 francs to agree to the latest demand on her. On being told “you can’t wear that” the business of changing her dress, assisted by Bernard and Robert, was ingenious and very slickly executed. Mary Warrington as Jacqueline and Tracey Pearce as Suzanne were both caught in the middle of the confusion thinking they were in control of things at one moment only to find them going wrong at the next. They provided good balance and pace to the situation to offset the frantic activity of the men. Phil Prior’s arrival as Suzette’s no-nonsense husband George brought more revelations and once again moved the plot in another direction. Interval discussions among the audience pondered how the situations that had been created could possibly be resolved. The final outcome was not altogether expected and we were left wondering until near the very end. The excellent set, designed by Alec Farr, provided the perfect setting and Enid Farr’s careful direction demonstrated many well-planned moves and positioning for the actors with their numerous and well timed entrances and exits. I look forward to seeing more productions by the Compton Players PETER KEARNS