Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham

Don't Dress for Dinner
Raleigh Little Theatre
Review by Garrett Southerland


A.C. Donohue and Rob Jenkins
Photo by Areon Mobasher
Mistaken identities and overactive libidos have been put to great use by writers like Shakespeare and Moliére. More recently, French playwright Marc Camoletti has added to the world of farce with Don't Dress for Dinner, presented by Raleigh Little Theatre at the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre through June 24. This play may not enforce a dress code, but it has high expectations for frivolity and laughter, as we are drawn into what is supposed to be a simple yet secretive tryst, but which just as quickly devolves into an evening of deceit and double (and at times triple) identities.

Bernard (the delightful Rob Jenkins) is about to send off his wife Jacqueline (a divine Jenny Anglum) for a weekend away to see visit her mother. But when she finds out that Bernard has invited his good friend Robert (a humorous Michael Parker) to stay the weekend with him, she abruptly changes her mind for rather personal reasons. Unbeknownst to Jacqueline, her husband is using his friend as an alibi to cover his rendezvous with another woman. As these guests and others arrive, and stories are improvised to explain the increasingly ludicrous circumstances, the confusion only grows, leaving us to wonder how long it will be before all these deceptions come crashing down.

Camoletti, whose best known work is another well-received farce, Boeing Boeing, enjoyed great success with Pyjamas pour Six, which was then translated and adapted for the English stage by Robin Hawdon and retitled Don't Dress for Dinner. The English version's years-long run in London's West End may explain why the setting and situations are very French yet the actors in this production speak in British accents.

Director Patrick Torres has orchestrated a delightful evening of buffoonery. He's encouraged the ensemble to take advantage of every line and every opportunity for physical comedy. The entire cast holds to their own, but the true standouts are the two Suzies. Tara Nicole Williams plays Suzette, the cook-turned-mistress-turned ... well, see for yourself, and she's captivating from start to finish. As Suzanne, the mistress-turned-cook (it all makes sense in the moment), A.C. Donohue brings down the house with every toss of hair and curl of lip. If her body language doesn't earn a laugh, her Marilyn Monroe-esque line readings do.

In real life this might be the last dinner party any of us would attend willingly. From the safety of the audience, though, all these shenanigans make for a delightful evening. No need to change clothes; come as you are.

Don't Dress for Dinner, through June 24, 2108, at Raleigh Little Theatre in the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh NC. Tickets are $25 for adults, $21 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at www.raleighlittletheatre.org or by phone at 919-821-3111.

Playwright: Marc Camoletti
Adaptation by: Robin Hawdon
Director: Patrick Torres

Cast:
Bernard: Rob Jenkins
Robert: Michael Parker
Suzette: Tara Nicole Williams
Jacqueline: Jenny Anglum
Suzanne: A.C. Donohue
George: Will Harris


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