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Don’t Dress for Dinner

a Comedy
by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4575

SHOWING : May 01, 2014 - May 25, 2014



Don’t Dress for Dinner is the uproarious sequel to Aurora’s
2010 hit "Boeing-Boeing." Bernard concocts a romantic
rendezvous with his mistress with an alibi courtesy of his
friend, Robert. But Bernard’s wife decides on a surprise
tryst of her own. With a gourmet cook and a randy
mistress—both named Suzy—a wacky collision course
of mistaken identity and outrageous infidelity ensues.

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Don’t Think for Two Hours
by playgoer
Saturday, May 17, 2014
"Don’t Dress for Dinner" is a very French farce by Marc Camoletti, adapted into English by Robin Hawdon. Mistresses and adultery abound, along with Cordon Bleu cuisine and a dizzying set of mistaken identities. When done right, it’s amoral and hilarious. Aurora Theatre does it right.

George Contini’s direction is a marvel. He has given his cast a tremendous number and variety of comic bits, and it makes them look like comic geniuses. At the performance I saw, both Shelli Delgado and Daniel Hilton got show-stopping applause after particularly impressive turns.

That’s not to say that all the directorial choices make sense. The action has been transposed to 1931, even though the first two minutes of the script refer to defrosting cannelloni. I can’t imagine that home freezers were common in Depression-era rural France. The accents of the characters don’t make sense either: we have upper-class British accents on three characters, French accents on two others, and a Lina Lamont-like American accent on the sixth. There’s no explanation attempted; the directorial touches are designed to enhance the comedy, pure and simple.

Costume design, by Amanda Edgerton, takes some unrealistic liberties too. While by and large the costumes are terrific, there’s one moment in which a maid’s outfit needs to be altered into a supposedly chic outfit. Here, the outfit is ripped off altogether, revealing a slip-like top and an ankle-length bottom that would be absurd to be worn under the maid’s outfit. But if you don’t think, it’s funny.

The action takes place on an elegant set designed by Lizz Dorsey, which is perhaps too elegant for the renovated barn and cow shed it’s supposed to be. Faux stonework breaks up the surface of two walls (of an incredibly shallow depth for a chimney), and timbers soar above. Some of the set decorations (props by Danyale Taylor) are baffling. A chair-side table is covered by an oversized vessel, making it useless otherwise as a table, and a shelf with leaning picture is placed so high that only people taller than anyone in the cast could view the painting. At least Mary Parker’s lighting design is above par.

The production isn’t designed to allow great amounts of thinking in the audience. The action moves briskly throughout, and is sparked by some wonderful performances. Maria Rodriguez-Sager is all brittle elegance as Jacqueline. Daniel Hilton is all befuddled bonhomie as her lover Robert. Kelly Criss is all surface beauty and internal dim-wittedness as Suzanne. Shelli Delgado makes every moment shine as the multiply misidentified Suzette, and Christopher M. Watson shines too in a small role in the second act. Only Bryan Brendle comes off less than sparklingly as Bernard, the host of the dinner, with his actions too evidently coming from his direction rather than arising naturally from his character, which is the case otherwise in the cast. His British accent is also iffy, which harms the believability of his character.

"Don’t Dress for Dinner" isn’t my favorite play, but it’s being given a bang-up production at Aurora Theatre under the direction of George Contini. He has masterfully crafted every moment in the play to point up the comedy. It doesn’t all make sense, but anyone coming to see the show should come to enjoy the hijinks, not to soberly analyze each directorial decision. Give in to it, and "Don’t Dress for Dinner" is a dizzyingly entertaining romp. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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