Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 7, 2008

Don't Dress For Dinner

Suffield Players, Suffield
Weekends through February 23, 2008
By Donna Bailey-Thompson

Deliberate, fantastic lies that if recounted during a 55-minute hour would qualify as confabulations worthy of certification are the fluffy stuff of The Suffield Players’ contribution to breaking up any mid-winter blues. "Don’t Dress For Dinner" is a delectable French farce. Thanks to Director Rayah Martin’s sense of pace and an appreciation of the ridiculous, this silly play delivers its purpose: it entertains.

Because the cast takes their characters seriously, the roles fall several giggles below (or above?) cartoon level. A preposterous plan is conjured up by an otherwise sophisticated Bernard (Robert Lunde) – to take advantage of his wife, Jacqueline’s (Gina Marie Paro) absence by inviting his mistress Suzanne (Meagan Kinney) to come spend the weekend. In the event Suzanne’s presence requires explanation, Bernard includes his best friend Robert (Christopher Berrien) as a houseguest who can pass, if needed, as Suzanne’s lover. What Bernard doesn’t know is that his wife and best friend are lovers. This recipe for failure has one more ingredient, a chef hired to come in and cook, Suzette (Amy Rucci, who cavorts with abandon).

When Jacqueline announces she’s staying home, pandemonium breaks loose. Extemporaneous lies pile up leading to improbable entanglements, sight gags and double entendres, until the identities are qualified and re-qualified so many times that no one knows who’s who or what. Eventually the multi-dimensional puzzle is figured out by Suzette’s husband, George (Edwin R. Lewis, III): that rapid fire dialog is enough to make heads spin.

Deft comedic timing is delivered by Lunde, Berrien and Rucci who feed the laugh meter with aplomb. In the brief mop-up role of George, Lewis injects gravitas into the whirling nonsense.

"Don’t Dress For Dinner" is so light – how light is it? – too light to leave a carbon footprint.