Review by Tanya Mancini
SET in a converted barn a few miles from Paris, Bernard has invited Susanne (his gorgeous Parisian mistress) to his home for the weekend as his wife is away; he has also invited along Robert his best friend as an alibi. As Bernard is trying to hurry his wife Jacqueline out the door, she takes a phone call from the catering company he has booked confirming the night, and informing her that their cook Suzette is on her way.
Having confessed to his wife that his friend is coming to stay, Bernard is certain this will not affect his plans. Jacqueline seems a little uncertain and upon her answering another call, this time from Robert; “My lover I had no idea… I will not miss the chance to be with you” The mischief and mayhem starts to unravel.
Jacqueline stays, Bernard expects an unwilling Robert to say Susanne is his mistress; Suzette the chef arrives; Robert introduces her to Jacqueline as his mistress in front of Bernard, then later not wanting to upset his real mistress of course, says she’s his niece, so when Susanne arrives she has to be the chef… Get it? Don’t worry, its truly farcical and immensely enjoyable. My favourite line has to be when the cook’s husband arrives to pick her up and she has to try to explain to him, fobbing it off as a game they like to play after dinner… and they still don’t know who’s going to sleep with who!
It all plays out over the night hilariously with lots of slapstick humour and brilliant comedy timing and well-delivered sidesplitting lines. The casts enthusiasm and apparent enjoyment between themselves, particularly with the two men, breaking away giggling and addressing the audience which at the Palace worked so well, feeling so intimate and friendly, endears the audience further as we laughed along with them infectiously.
A wonderful gem of a play – the cordon bleu of cooking the books of marriage so to speak, it’s extremely funny and it really was a great night out. It reminded me of the humour found going back a few years in programmes like Duty Free and Fawlty Towers, so if you liked those, you will love Don’t Dress For Dinner.
Don’t Dress For Dinner is showing at the Palace Theatre until Saturday June 3.