In these dark times we desperately need to laugh and laugh you will at ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much or so hard or felt my laughter was getting in the way of the actor’s next line – which I was eager not to miss on account of the hilarity at stake.
The storyline, in brief, goes as follows: a wife is going to visit her mother and her husband is going to take advantage of his wife’s absence by inviting his mistress over for the weekend. His friend who’d been his best man at the wedding then calls and the husband invites him to join, thinking he would make a perfect alibi. As it turns out when the wife discovers the husband’s friend is coming to stay, she cancels her visit to her mother because – as it turns out – she’s having an affair with him. I will say no more for fear of any spoilers, but I can tell you, this is just the start of the affairs, for there are affairs upon affairs upon affairs. And it will delight you no end.
You will somehow keep up and on top of the mad goings-on because ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’ by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon is some of the finest farcical writing I have ever seen, and the entire cast of actors are – without a shadow of a doubt – at the top of their game. It takes exceptional skill, which you rarely see, to successfully portray such multi-layered and dysfunctional misdirection, not to mention the double-, triple-, nay, quadruple entendres. It really is comic genius of a level deserved of a much bigger stage.
It makes sense therefore, to learn this show played for many years in the West End. What was perhaps more surprising was to discover this production was originally in French and has been adapted to English. It shows the remarkable talent of the writers to create such a fantastical farce it appears to have been natively born.
I absolutely adored every single minute of my time watching this outrageously funny farce and I was sad to see the characters leave. Their chemistry, meltdowns, showdowns, existential dilemmas and witticisms were superb. While every member of the cast is crucial to the successful jigsaw-ing of this zaniness, for me, Suzette (Becky Hoyle) stood out as a comedienne who’ll go far.
I’ve seen so many, many shows over my years of reviewing theatre, but ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’ at Frinton Summer Theatre has got to be one of my standout comedy favourites. I don’t believe you can possibly watch this production and not cry with laughter, if you don’t, I’d recommend you see a doctor (if you can find one) and ask them to put your funny bone back in.
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 15th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: