Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 9, 2021

Review: Majestic Theater, Don't Dress for Dinner

The Majestic Theater, West Springfield MA
through December 5, 2021
by Tim O’Brien

Marrieds Bernard and Jaqueline, apparently both American expats, live a comfortable early 1960's life in rural France. They’re both conducting successful extramarital affairs, but tonight, things are going to become comically confusing, and fast. That’s because Jaqueline is about to leave for the weekend to visit her presumably ailing mother, while Bernard’s best pal (and best man) Robert is coming to visit for the weekend. But so is Bernard’s girlfriend Suzanne, as well as the Cordon Bleu chef Bernard has secretly hired: Suzette. It might’ve even all worked out, except at the 11th hour, Jaqueline decides to stay home, because her lover is none other than…Robert.

This classic farce is a fast-growing house of cards, with schemes, misunderstandings, mistaken identities, preposterous cover stories and straight-up lies frantically piling upon one another. Naturally, the fun lies in watching how the cast navigates these romantically-roiled waters.

Jack Grigoli’s Bernard vacillates skillfully between confident Lothario and terrified cad. While in the wrong as a husband,  he’s the kind of philanderer you almost find yourself rooting for. Bethany Fitzgerald’s similarly likable Jaqueline smells a rat from the opening moments, and while she’s also on thin moral ice, seeing her work both sides of the outrage street is a hoot. Scott Renzoni is a delight, playing Robert with a young Bob Newhart vibe, and unerringly reciting several tongue-twisting speeches as he desperately tries to keep the many ruses alive.

“Girlfriend Suzy” (Alexandra O’Halloran) fills the ingenue role nicely as a bewildered Paris sophisticate suddenly forced to cook dinner for strangers. “Chef Suzy” (Elizabeth Pietrangelo) earns plenty of laughs as the one who’s really got nothing to lose; she regularly extorts Bernard and Robert for her ongoing cooperation. Finally there’s the cook’s husband George (Shaun O’Keefe) played well as a hot-tempered Scot who inadvertently helps untangle some of the web of deceits.

Stephen Petit’s direction is crisp and the pace is rapid-fire throughout. The script itself seems to falter a bit in the very late going, but it’s no fault of anyone other than the original writer or adaptor. Overall, it’s a good romp and a perfect way to enjoy the ongoing return of live theater.