What the critics are saying:

Review: Center REP's Don't Dress for Dinner hilarious farce

By Pat Craig

Posted:   10/30/13

In that brief period between the age of peace, love (and one other thing I've forgotten because I grew up in the '60s), and the age of disco, there were a few years when people dressed to excess, believed white was a great color for living room furniture, and maybe, just maybe, took Hugh Hefner more seriously than he deserved.

And it is upon this canvas that Marc Camoletti's "Don't Dress for Dinner" is painted in Walnut Creek's production of the bedroom farce which opened this week. It's a perfect example of a take-no-prisoners comedy, where the wildly funny cast hardly pauses for breath, and expects the audience to follow suit, for fear they will miss something.

They will, too, since the show runs faster than a DMV line at quitting time, as Director Michael Butler and his fine-tuned comic cast dips into the playbooks of old time movie comics from Charlie Chase to Buster Keaton and slightly later funnyman Lou Costello in a successful crusade to do anything for a laugh.

It is, they will tell friends over post-play wine, not a particularly sophisticated sort of humor, just before confessing they laughed their nether regions off. The truth is, this rocket-fast piece of comedy gets the job done and keeps us all laughing and happy and shelters us, for awhile, anyway, from whatever seriousness we had on our minds when we walked in.

"Don't Dress" neither demands nor expects any more than this when the audience joins Bernard (Liam Vincent) and his spouse, Gabriella (Nika Ericson) at their stunningly converted farm house south of Paris, where Gabriella is about to head off for a weekend visit to her mom, and Bernard is quietly making plans to have his mistress Suzanne (Brittany Danielle) over to celebrate her birthday with an intimate catered dinner.

But, you know how it goes with the best-laid plans, beginning when his lifelong buddy Robert (Cassidy Brown) phones from the railroad station to say he's in town and the call is answered by Gabriella, who also happens to be Robert's mistress.

Upon learning Robert will be in town, Gabriella calls her mother to say she's come down with the flu, then tells her husband that his mother-in-law his too sick for company. With wife home and mistress en route, the ever-innovative Bernard asks his highly reluctant pal to pretend Suzanne is actually Robert's mistress, so Gabriella, wink, wink, won't be the wiser. Of course Bernard doesn't know a thing about Robert and Gabriella's relationship.

It still might have worked, though, if Suzanne rather than Suzette (Lyndsy Kail), the cook Bernard hired for the weekend, had been the first to show up. By the time Suzette arrives, everyone's drinking, everyone's confused -- and the first act hasn't even ended. At this point the weekend begins for real and quickly takes on the appearance of shipwreck survivors bobbing in the water during a storm at sea, and the whole thing becomes hilariously ridiculous. The men slip into their satin jammies and robes, and the women wear something a bit more comfortable, and brief, which could be why these sorts of plays are called sex farces.

While you are stuffing yourself with eye candy, the jokes are flying around like bats on a dark night, and the whole thing is getting funnier and funnier and the plot's getting more and more involved and time's passing faster than Superman's trip around the world.

It is quite simply a whole lot of fun and a wonderful way to spend an easy evening.

As with most Center Rep productions, the show is well done with Butler's excellent direction, Maggie Morgan's costumes, Eric Flatmo's sets and understated sound and lights by Matt Stines and Ray Oppenheimer.


Review: Don't Dress for Dinner a four door farce at Center REP

By Kedar Adour

Posted:   11/2/13

Don’t Dress for Dinner is being pedaled as “brilliant sequel to REP’s hilarious and stylish sold-out hit, Boeing-Boeing.” Unfortunately this reviewer did not see that show or any other production so this review is strictly based on what transpired on the stage on Halloween Night. It is a classic farce with the obligatory minimum of four doors and is directed at breakneck speed with more than sufficient physical shtick to supplement the hilarious misunderstandings that build and build until even the actors may be confused about who is doing what to whom.

Amongst his many other laudable directorial attributes Michael Butler is a master at directing farce. He has taken a mediocre convoluted play, populated it with a superb cast and added directorial conceits to create a laugh filled evening.  The popularity of Don’t Dress For Dinner is attested by the fact that after a two year run in France Camoletti’s play was adapted for the English stage and had a six year run in London. The only connection to Boeing,-Boeing are the male leads Bernard (Liam Vincent) and his best friend Robert (Cassidy Brown).  

The time has shifted from 1960 to 1970 both the miscreants are still up to their nefarious ways. Bernard is married to a hot bodied Italian Gabriella (Nika Ericson) and they live in a converted chic modern French farm house (terrific set by Erik Flatmo) and he has a mistress Suzanne (Brittany Danielle).  In the original play the wife was French named Jacqueline and one can assume that director Butler could pump more energy into the play with a more volatile wife and he does.

Gabriella is about to go visit her mother. While she is away the sneaky Bernard has planned a birthday party for Suzanne. Robert has been invited to the party. A Cordon Blue chef named Suzette (Lyndsy Kail) has been hired from an agency to prepare the dinner. This will cause great confusion when both Suzanne and Suzette respond to the diminutive “Suzi.” Confusion will be compounded when Gabriella intercepts telephone call discovering that Robert is coming. She, come hell or high water, is not about to go visit dear mama because Robert is her lover.

When Suzette arrives Robert assumes she is Suzanne and in short order she is conned (for two 100 franc notes) to go along with the charade. When dumb blonde sexy Suzanne shows up, [wearing a very expensive coat that is integral to the plot] she has to pretend to be the cook but she is more of a short order cook rather than a Cordon blue chef.

There are the obligatory four doors needed before a play can be a farce. The country house is actually a converted barn with the two spare bed rooms that were formerly a cow stall and piggery. That detail gets a lot of guffaws when decisions must be made as to who will sleep with whom and where.

Liam Vincent creates a marvelous priggish Machiavellian Bernard who gradually uses all those around him to cover up his misdeeds. Nika Ericson’s incendiary Italian has perfect control hiding her own peccadillo with consummate composure and controls the stage when it is time to play the “wronged wife.” Amongst the female roles, Lyndsy Kail is the audience favorite morphing from an ordinary girl to a seductive model, to niece actress or to whatever is needed for the cover-up earning every franc proffered by the two timing men. The audience burst into applause when she is stripped of her maid costume to play the role of mistress.  Brittany Danielle is completely believable as the not too bright sexy Suzanne.

The major accolades belong to Cassidy Brown with his mobile face, elastic body that would get him a job in Comedie del Arte, and his superb double takes.  Khary L. Moye adds a touch of class with his underplayed depiction of a possibly wronged husband and can be considered a deus ex mechina.  No further explanation will be given.

A brilliant directorial touch involves a large, low fuzzy white ottoman downstage center where Butler gives every member of the cast time to cavort.  Although he uses broad comedy just short of slapstick there is directorial sophistication and intricate timing to obtain maximum humor from the script. Running time two hours with intermission.

Production Crew: Set Design by Erik Flatmo, Lighting Design by Ray Oppenheimer, Costume Design by Maggie Morgan, Sound Design by Matt Stines, Stage Manager Kathleen J. Parsons*

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com


Review: Center REP presents hilarious farce Don't Dress for Dinner

By Jan Miller

Posted:   11/1/13

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” is Center Repertory Company’s brilliant sequel to “Boeing-Boeing.” It’s ten years later, and best buds Robert (Cassidy Brown) and Bernard (Liam Vincent) have supposedly settled down. However, the shenanigans continue in this hilarious bedroom farce in which most of the humor derives from the bawdy grappling among the various romantic partners and the slinky manner in which each of the characters, including Bernard’s mistress Suzanne (Brittany Danielle) tries to outfox the others.

This wildly funny sequel, directed by the incomparable Michael Butler, has the perfect cast, which offers a laugh a minute, hardly giving the audience a pause for breath.

Set in a comfortable country home outside Paris in 1970, the plot turns on a weekend of philandering planned by Bernard, who is just about ready to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to welcome his mistress, Suzanne, when things begin to go turbulently awry.

Bernard’s wife, Gabriella (Nika Ericson), was packed for a visit to her mother. But when she discovers that Bernard’s friend Robert has unexpectedly turned up she pretends that her mother has the flu. She and Robert have been carrying on their own secret affair, and she is looking forward to a reunion. And that’s just the beginning!

There’s more – much more! Since Suzanne’s imminent arrival must somehow be explained, Bernard presses Robert to pretend that she is his mistress — a ruse Robert is most reluctant to agree to, for fear of alienating Gabriella’s affections. But play along he must, and all might still be well were it not for the untimely arrival of the cook sent by a catering agency, Suzette (Lyndsy Kail), whom Robert mistakes for Suzanne, and who is baffled at the odd request to pretend to be his mistress. And it just keeps getting better and better.

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” makes no attempt at subtlety. Of course, subtlety is not a requirement when producing a farce, and the cast of “Don’t Dress for Dinner” certainly takes this slapstick approach to the next level in what seems like a convoluted permanent state of damage control.

Without doubt Lyndsy Kail plays the most clever role as the wily Suzette, despite her nasal French accent which seems to drift occasionally. Suzette coolly demands a few more hundred francs every time she is asked to undertake some preposterous new role in the ongoing, yet seemingly confused antics.

Unquestionably, the production’s best bit of physical comedy comes in a scene in which the maid’s uniform Suzette has donned for dinner — it’s the only other outfit she brought — is instantly transformed by Robert and Bernard into a chic cocktail dress, inspiring Suzette to play the grand lady as she becomes increasingly looped on liquor.

While the plot might be considered far-fetched, even as far as sex farces go, “Don’t Dress for Dinner” is a whole lot of fun with plenty of laughs.


Sex farce Don't Dress for Dinner comes to Center Repertory Company

By Pat Craig

Posted:   10/14/2013 02:38:19 PM PDT
Updated:   10/15/2013 12:50:35 PM PDT

"This one is a genuine French sex farce, originally titled "Pyjamas Pour Six," ... According to director Michael Butler, "Don't Dress for Dinner" is something of a sequel to "Boeing-Boeing," also by Camoletti, which was a huge hit for Center REP in 2011. The star of "Boeing-Boeing," Liam Vincent, reprises his role of the playboy Bernard in "Don't Dress."

In "Don't Dress," Bernard is married, but hardly reformed -- he is scheming to send his wife to her mother's for the weekend so he can have a couple days of quality time with his mistress. He's invited his pal and wingman Robert to come by and, of course, confusion, panic, decisions made on the fly and remarkable circumstances all ensue.

The play begins previews Oct. 25 and runs through Nov. 23 in Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts."