When Bernard was planning a romantic weekend with his stylish Parisian mistress, he wasn’t expecting his wife to cancel her trip to her mother’s. He wasn’t expecting that the gourmet chef he hired wouldn’t be able to cook. He wasn’t expecting that his alibi, Robert, would turn out to be his wife’s secret lover. This series of surprises and the sexual farce that ensues is “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” which is being preformed tomorrow through Sunday by University Productions. The production is directed by John Neville-Andrews.
“Don’t Dress for Dinner” was originally written in French by Mark Camoletti as “Pajamas for Six,” and was adapted by Robin Hawden for it’s 1991 premiere at London’s Apollo Theater. The play has since been performed throughout the world to enthusiastic audiences. Neville-Andrews, who has set his production in the late ’90s, was excited to bring this show to the University stage because “modern farce is something our student actors rarely get the chance to work on. So for them to experience, and learn, the essential techniques and disciplines of farce acting – comic timing, pace, precision, coordination, and, of course, perfect door slams – is extremely valuable.”
The play is best known for its humor, a farcical and hilarious style that will sit well with a student audience. The action is quick and outlandish, and physicality is always dramatic. “We hope the audiences will have a thoroughly enjoyable and laugh-filled evening in the theater,” Neville-Andrews says. “The characters, like all farce characters, are broad and stereotypical.” The six-person cast stumbles with comedic precision through a variety of outlandish confusion – mistaken identities, adultery and misplaced jealousy. Adults start acting like children when their affairs and secrets begin to fall apart.
Above all, it’s a solid and reliable form of comedy – one that relies more on laughs than on making a play for your sentiments. Neville-Andrews states, “The best part of working on this play was watching the actors discover, appreciate and enjoy the farce acting techniques.”