Don’t Dress For Dinner staged by the Quarndon Amateur Dramatic Society was one of the most hilarious couple of hours I have had for a long time.
The elaborate contretemps had all the thwarted sexual shenanigans, misunderstandings, seething suspicions and slapstick you would expect from a French farce and the cast of six carried it off brilliantly with slick timing and at a great pace.
With his wife Jacqueline off to visit her mother, Bernard is salivating over a weekend romp with his chic Parisian mistress Suzanne, a model and actress. Also expected for the weekend is old buddy Robert.
What Bernard, played by Wayne Parkin, doesn’t know is, he is having an affair with Jacqueline (Sonia Hardy), who instantly cancels on mother when she gets wind of her lover’s arrival.
Add Suzette – a cordon bleu cook hired from a catering company – who because of the similar name is mistaken for the mistress by Robert – and you have a recipe for disaster.
By the time Robert (Tom Corrigan) realises his error, it’s too late to correct it without exposing the planned indiscretions of both himself and his host.
So the bewildered Suzette (Leni Robson) finds herself playing in turn, mistress, model, actress and niece. Undaunted by the eccentricities of her clients, the cook is happy to play along fleecing the foolish men for more money for each fresh layer of deception.
Next to arrive is Suzanne (Alex Wrampling), wearing an expensive new fur coat and expecting to be celebrating her birthday with her paramour, but who ends up in the kitchen, attempting to cook.
As the dinner party reaches it climax we meet George, Suzette’s ‘protective’ husband (Richard Whitehorn), who has come to fetch his wife at the end of her evening’s work. It takes him a while (long enough for fisty cuffs) to catch on to her cunning plan but eventually they leave with smiles on their faces.
The sillier the plot the funnier it became and there was plenty of laughter from the audience at the sell-out show in Quarndon Village Hall.
Sonia and Alex were excellent as the rival women both trying to maintain cool composures while fighting a rising fury with their men, but it was Leni, as the wily chef, who won the most laughs.
Her artful demeanour won over the audience and her transformation from uniformed maid to mistress in a LBD was ingenious. Well done to director Peter Konowalik for achieving that on such an intimate stage.
Wayne and Tom worked well together and their delivery of the perplexing explanations of what was going on earned well-deserved applause.
The production team for the play was Phil Read stage manager, Rob Snell sound and lighting, Phil Read, Keith Parker and QUADS members set, Cheryl Roberts and Sue Green, production assistants, Debs Simpson prompt, Jan Baggaley wardrobe, Rachel Nichols properties, Emma Duder photography, Sheila Wood box office and publicity Wayne Parkin.
Don’t Dress For Dinner, by Marc Camoletti, can be seen until Saturday at 7.45pm. There are only a few tickets left but don’t despair there may be some last minute cancellations. Click here to book.