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DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER
DIRECTOR: Steven Stead
CAST: Natasha Sutherland, James Cuningham, Robert Fridjhon, Emily Child, Nhlakanipho Manqele and Janna Ramos-Violante
THEATRE: Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre
UNTIL: April 14
Remember we’re talking farce. Not in the Feydeau sense, but in the ilk of Boeing Boeing. This is, in fact, the follow-up of that one, but set in contemporary South Africa, hence the game lodge setting recreated in spunky style by designer Greg King, who lets his imagination run riot and has loads of fun with the details from the colours to the faux animals.
We’re talking storylines that make no sense and people who are caricature and silly in almost everything they do, but what turns it into a romp, is how the director and cast deal with the material.
If on the male side, Cuningham and Fridjhon are your options, you’ve almost been handed a winning set of cards. Both masters of physical comedy, they let rip and are given free rein by director Stead who realises they will know when to let go or hold back just that extra step that will take it either up or beyond.
Little about the text had me smiling, but what these two actors especially came up with during the course of two hours was hysterical to watch. They never let down their guard, play it to the hilt and bring their female counterparts along for the ride.
The story, such as it is, plays with different relationships and who should know what, when and how to extricate themselves from an impossible situation. There’s a constant passing of the ball as someone is given the option of explaining their precarious position and as there’s no way to manoeuvre, they simply pass on the problem which then comes straight back to them.
There’s no sense in telling the tale, but the characters are a husband (Cuningham) and wife (Sutherland) who are both cheating, the one with a best friend (Fridjhon) and the other with a sexy presenter (Child). Add to this predictable mix an Afrikaans chef (Ramos-Violante) who’s eager and willing to go along with the cover-up at a price and her jealous husband (Manqele) who introduces an unexpected frisson to the farcical dish.
What would have introduced more punch was some culling and perhaps a 90-minute long production which kept running from beginning to end without a break. One doesn’t want too much time to think about the events on stage and when you return for the second half, it’s obvious what’s to follow.
Much more fun would be to get the the roller-coaster up and off and simply to finish the ride. As it plays now, it’s a tad drawn out.
But if farce is your bag, this is the team you want on board. They know how to play the game and from start to finish, with Cuningham and Fridjhon taking the lead, their exuberance is exhilarating.