Don’t Dress For Dinner

Rosemary Branch Theatre, 20-23 September 2007
A two-act play by Marc Camoletti

Don’t Dress for Dinner is a French farce set outside Paris, relocated to the outskirts of London by Laura Nunn’s production for the RBS Theatre Company. The plot consists of Bernard’s attempt to have a wild weekend with his mistress, thwarted by his wife’s pursuit of her own affair with his best friend, further complicated by the arrival of a cook (with almost the same name as the mistress) and her somewhat overprotective husband. This is an extremely funny show with a great deal of convoluted dialogue that the cast did well to recall as well as having to deal with quite a bit of business with various props, costumes etc..

As Bernard, Simon Piercy had a tough role; not a particularly sympathetic character (certainly from a woman’s point of view!), he had to make us care about him and at least be a little on his side, which he succeeded in doing very well.

His wife, Jacqueline, was played by Heather Mullins with a briskly acerbic edge and strong delivery, yet when she discovered her husband’s betrayal she also conveyed her hurt very convincingly, planning her revenge with a bitter relish that made me fear for any Mr. Mullins out there!

The best friend Robert, played by Adam Hillmore, looked ever more bewildered, put-upon and outraged as he was drawn deeper into Bernard’s intrigues, delivering his increasingly complex explanations with speed and accuracy. He was physically hilarious as he became drunker and more desperate as the evening drew on.

Teresa Fitzgibbons as the cook, Suzette, was marvellously funny, deadpanning her way with a look of disgust through the complications (for a fee) to become Robert’s fake girlfriend/niece/top model/society girl – the exposition speech was brilliantly delivered, gaining a well-deserved round of applause from the audience.

Stephanie Cook, as Suzanne the mistress, looked extremely glamorous and played her outrage at being shoved aside into the kitchen very well. She handled moving from being on Bernard’s side to that of his wife’s with convincing indignation and gained the audience’s sympathy by the conclusion of the play.

Ben Gill’s role as Suzette’s husband George was small but with lots to do, including the throwing of some credible punches. He made a most realistic (and funny!) jealous thug.

The cast worked well as an ensemble and used the small space well. The minimal staging left the set looking a little bare, but given the constraints of the space this generally worked in its favour. The rug on the floor seemed continually rucked up by the passage of feet and perhaps could have been foregone or else pinned down.
The set itself must have been a nightmare to build but it looked great and worked brilliantly. Costumes were also well thought out, in particular the mistress’s outfits and the maid costume that transformed into a strapless little number – another scene that drew deserved applause for all concerned. Sound effects were well-used and timely! Given the static set, Lighting was not much called upon
but worked well where used.
The second half lacked a little pace and rather than building to the desired frenetic climax
seemed to lose its way a little in the middle – although I think this may have been due to
some members of the cast reaching for their lines – the night that I saw it some crucial
dialogue was lost in the final expositional scene which left me a little confused as to what
was going on.

In a small venue like the Rosemary Branch, projection is not generally a worry, but this is
something that some members of the cast should watch out for on a larger
stage. Several of the cast also upstaged themselves at times – easily done in a small space
with lots of people, but another thing to bear in mind for the future.

However, overall the show was extremely enjoyable and a welcome return to the stage for
the Company – all concerned should be very proud of themselves!

Cast and Crew List
Photo Gallery