Adapted by Robin Hawdon
Directed by Walter Learning
Canberra Rep at Theatre 3 to 5 December
Review by Len Power 20 November 2015
Marc Camoletti’s ‘Don’t Dress For Dinner’, in its English adaptation by Robin Hawdon, ran for six years in London’s West End from 1991. Walter Learning’s excellent production of the play for Canberra Rep shows why it was so popular.
A farce, in which both husband and wife are having affairs that collide on one memorable evening, the extra fun in this one is that the lies told get found out earlier than expected. This just causes even more confusion resulting in still more lies and perilously pathetic attempts at logical explanations. This is really a very funny play.
Peter Holland and Rob de Fries demonstrate once again that they are Canberra’s top performers in this type of play. Their sense of timing for both the physical and verbal action is perfect and they wring every laugh out of the script. As Peter Holland’s wife, Jacqueline, Monique Dyson does well but isn’t quite as skilful as the men, missing potential laughs with some mistimed moments. Natalie Waldron and Michelle Cooper give amusing performances as Suzette and Suzanne. Daniel McCusker creates a nice character with the smaller role of George.
Canberra Rep’s sets are always something to see but this one by Andrew Kay is a beauty. A living room converted from a French barn, it’s stylish and very well decorated. Colours are enhanced by Mike Moloney’s lighting design and the costumes by Ann Moloney have been well chosen. Neil McRitchie’s busy sound design adds to the fun of the show.
You can usually expect a good production from director, Walter Learning, but this one is especially memorable for its attention to detail. He keeps the pace running at a furious speed but ensures that the actors can be clearly understood at every moment. It’s a good play to start with but Walter Learning has given it that extra something that makes it an outstanding entertainment. Don’t miss it!
Len Power’s reviews can also be heard on Artsound FM’s ‘Artcetera’ program from 9am Saturdays.