Don’t Dress for Dinner is a sassy French farce, as well as a comedy of errors of epic proportions. And, Raleigh Little Theatre’s version, directed by Patrick Torres, lives up to the bawdy, hilarious nature of the original script by Robin Hawdon, which itself is an adaptation of a Marc Camoletti play.
The mishaps begin when Bernard (Rob Jenkins) tries to hurriedly usher his wife, Jacqueline (Jenny Anglum) out of the house. She is supposed to be going away, and he intends to “play” while she does. At first, it seems Bernard has only invited over his long-time pal, Robert (Michael Parker), who also happens to be (unbeknownst to Bernard), Jacqueline’s lover. The truth, however, is that Bernard has also invited his mistress, Suzanne (A.C. Donohue) over for the weekend.
When Jacqueline decides to stay home, Bernard convinces Robert to act as Suzanne’s partner. Unfortunately (and hilariously), Robert mistakes the cook Suzette (Tara Nicole Williams) for Suzanne. And, if you’re confused by that description, just imagine how the characters feel!
Fortunately, Torres manages to clearly and artfully direct this twisted little story so that the audience is always in on the jokes. Strong performances, all played-out against a beautifully-designed French home set- complete with plenty of doors for hilarious entries and exits throughout- also add to the fun of the production.
The ladies here are the real standouts. A.C. Donohue pouts and fusses her way through her sultry portrayal of Suzanne, aided greatly by Vicki Olson’s fun costume choices. It is Williams, though, who is the true comedic standout. She plays the role of the befuddled, tip-hungry cook with gusto and warmth, making the character extremely likeable and daringly sexy in her own right. Parker plays off of her high energy by giving Robert an unconcerned, drunken air. The remaining two members of the cast play their parts well, doling out the script’s fierce wordplay perfectly, but leaving the true comedy to their castmates. It makes for a nice balance that keeps the script from being overly silly and that gives a surprising amount of depth to this usually just-for-fun farce.
All in all, there is a lot of fun and gusto in this hilarious production, which is sure to make for an enjoyable, if somewhat tawdry, evening on the town.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER at 8 p.m. June 14-16, 3 p.m. June 17, 8 p.m. June 21-23, and 3 p.m. June 24 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $25 ($21 students and seniors 62+).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0Sd000000jOO3DEAW.
SHOW: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/dont-dress-for-dinner/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1341173752650760/.
RLT‘S 2017-18 SEASON: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/tickets/memberships.html.
PRESENTER: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/RaleighLittleTheatre, https://twitter.com/RLT1936, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Little_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/raleighlittletheatre.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows. RLT has also installed a hearing loop in the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 3 p.m. Sunday, June 17th, performance.
Don’t Dress for Dinner (1987 Paris and 2012 Broadway comedy): https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/1252/dont-dress-for-dinner (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/dont-dress-for-dinner-491119 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Dress_for_Dinner (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.wctlive.ca/docs/study_guide-don_t_dress_for_dinner.pdf (Western Canada Theatre).
Marc Camoletti (French playwright, 1923-2003): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/marc-camoletti-7490 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0131942/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Camoletti_%28playwright%29 (Wikipedia).
Robin Hawdon (British playwright and author): https://robinhawdon.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/robin-hawdon-491122 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0369937/ (Internet Movie Database).
Patrick Torres (director and RLT artistic director): http://raleighlittletheatre.org/people/patrick-torres/ (RLT bio) and https://www.facebook.com/patrick.torres.585 (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.triangleartsreview.com/, http://www.susiepotter.com, and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.