Starring in Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s production of “Don’t Dress for Dinner” are, front row, from left, Tracy Borgatti, Charles Wilcox and Gail Scott; and, back row, Toby Manion, Barbara Anthony and Ian MacCallum.
Calculating caterers, conniving lovers and chronic confusion combine in a comical formula pivoting on compounding dishonesty.
It’s a complicated recipe, but the veteran players at Early Bird Dinner Theatre know their way around the kitchen.
Early Bird Dinner Theatre’s production of Mark Camoletti’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner” runs through June 19 at the Italian-American Club, 200 S. McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater.
Camoletti’s two-act sex farce “Don't Dress for Dinner” is set in the main living room of a French country house outside Paris. The action is continuous, and Camoletti is known for crafting single-night comedies.
As the play opens, Jacqueline is preparing to depart for a weekend visit with her mother, leaving her husband Bernard home alone. Before leaving, Jacqueline learns Bernard has arranged to have to have a caterer make dinner – and that Bernard’s friend Robert is on his way.
In fact, Bernard has planned a tryst with his chic French mistress, Suzanne. He invited Robert to provide him with an alibi. However, unknown to Bernard, Robert is having an affair with Jacqueline.
Of course, upon learning her lover is dropping in for dinner, Jacqueline quickly cancels her weekend trip.
Sound complicated? Please, these characters have only begun to weave their web of deceit. When the caterer, Suzette, arrives, the real hilarity starts, with Bernard and Robert desperately trying to manage all of their tall tales and falsehoods.
For every new arrival, a new fib is forged – and the fun escalates as the audience tries to keep track of all the intricate untruths.
Charles Wilcox heads up the cast as Bernard. He infuses his character with manic desperation, underscoring the adulterer’s nonsensical logic with an uproariously ludicrous demeanor.
Gail Scott plays Jacqueline. Scott balances the character’s split personality, playing the disloyal wife one moment and the fuming spurned lover the next.
Ian MacCallum portrays Robert, the deadpan victim taking collateral damage from Bernard’s fiasco. When not depicting a deer-in-the-headlights, MacCallum shows off his puckish side.
As Suzette, Barbara Anthony easily gets the lion’s share of laughs. Whenever she is on stage, she owns it, living up to this character’s comedic potential.
Tracy Borgatti plays Suzanne, the spoiled Parisian model who ends up playing a less glamorous role in Bernard’s subterfuge. Borgatti highlights the character’s resentment as well as her fickleness. Toby Manion arrives in the second act, portraying Suzette’s very territorial husband George. Manion and Anthony always click on stage, and this is no exception.
The humor in “Don’t Dress for Dinner” develops not so much from the absurdity of the premise as it does from each character’s mismanagement of their deceitfulness. As the action progresses, each botched falsehood leads to a more complex lie until the entire situation is riotously preposterous. The players at Early Bird Dinner Theatre thrive on this kind of farce and deliver a fine production.
Seating for performances is Thursday through Sunday, 4 p.m. Seating for matinees is Thursday and Saturday, 11 a.m. Cost is $29.90 a person. For reservations, call 446-5898. Visit www.earlybirddinnertheatre.com.