Thursday, April 5, 2012

Don't Dress for Dinner **

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Robin Howdon's English adaptation of this broad French farce by Marc Camoletti ran in London for six years. Go figure! The characters Bernard and Robert from his earlier success Boeing-Boeing are back. Bernard (Adam James), now married, is planning a weekend with his mistress Suzanne (Jennifer Tilly) while his wife Jacqueline (Patricia Kalember) is away visiting her mother. His best friend Robert (Ben Daniels), who, unbeknownst to Bernard, is Jacqueline's lover, is also spending the weekend. Bernard has engaged a chef, Suzette (Spencer Kayden), to prepare a romantic dinner. Jacqueline's abrupt cancellation of her trip sets off a tightly scripted round of mistaken identities, misunderstandings and pratfalls. The physical humor is extremely well-choreographed and the actors, except for Tilly, are very good. Daniels, who has the thankless task of portraying a character that Mark Rylance played, acquits himself admirably. Kayden repeatedly steals scenes. David Aron Damane makes the most of the small role of George. I suppose it's unrealistic to look for any depth of characterization in a farce, but I felt very little stake in what happened to anyone. What pleasure there is comes from watching the complications unfold with the precision of a Swiss clock. John Lee Beatty's set and William Ivey Long's costumes are fine. John Tillinger's direction keeps the action lively in this Roundabout production. Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including intermission.

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