In a nutshell, Don't Dress for Dinner is about a man (James Cuningham) who's cheating on his wife (Natasha Sutherland), who's having an affair with the man's best friend (Robert Fridjhon), who pretends to be dating the man's mistress (Emily Child), but accidentally confuses her with a gourmet chef (Janna Ramos-Violante), whose husband (Nhlakanipho Manqele) ends up just as confused as everyone else. (With farces like this, Wikipedia
states that "viewers are encouraged not to try to follow the plot in order to avoid becoming confused and overwhelmed".)
"[We] at KicksArt have long wished to try our hand at this highly entertaining, surprisingly challenging dramatic form," said director Steven Stead. "As farces go, Don't Dress for Dinner is relatively sophisticated, and the humour is largely situational, rather than slapstick, which seems altogether more 'adult' than the trousers-down, door-slamming, Punch and Judy Show of some other classic farces. As a result, we have been able to find some 'truth' in our characters, and to flesh them out more than is often the case."
Added local flavour
Don't Dress for Dinner was originally written by French playwright Marc Camoletti and adapted by Robin Hawdon, but this production adds some local flavour - accents, slang, etc. - to make it more appetising for South African audiences. First and foremost is the Greg King's beautiful set, which so vividly captures a bush lodge near the Kruger National Park that you can practically feel the make-believe mosquitos that keep bothering the characters. (I've seen 18 shows at Theatre on the Bay and never realised just how 'deep' that stage is.)
My only small grumble is that some of the deliciously witty dialogue was so fast and so funny that it was hard to hear over the sound of non-stop laughter. Perhaps there were a few places where the performers could have stopped and waited for the audience to settle down before they continued with their lines. Then again, when you're dealing with what I'm sure will be one of the year's funniest shows, any reason to go back for seconds can't be a bad thing!Don't Dress for Dinner is at Cape Town's Theatre on the Bay until 11 May. Tickets are available from Computicket. For more information, go to www.kickstart-theatre.co.za.