A bit of frivolity lightens the load
by Charlene Baldridge
Published - 11/08/08 - 01:07 AM | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PHOTO BY AARON RUMLEY
Phil Johnson (left) and Christopher M. Williams in North Coast Rep’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”
PHOTO BY AARON RUMLEY Phil Johnson (left) and Christopher M. Williams in North Coast Rep’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”
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If the antidote to all the darkness seen lately on San Diego stages and on Wall Street is frivolity, North Coast Repertory Theatre has just the vehicle. Never mind that they had a lot of misses during the past season; two shows into their 27th, they’ve scored a bull’s eye with Marc Camoletti’s 1985 farce, “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” which is adapted by Robin Hawdon and deftly staged by Rosina Reynolds.

The casting could not be better nor the performances more adroitly managed by the director and her company, Lisel Gorrell-Getz, Phil Johnson, Amanda Sitton, Matt Thompson, Jacque Wilke and Christopher M. Williams.

Who knew that Sitton was so expert a farceur? And although the comedic capabilities of Gorrell-Getz, Johnson and Williams are well known, they top themselves here without going over the top. Newcomer Wilke very nearly steals the show with her bewilderment and deadpan, and Thompson never looked so menacing or immense, providing another brilliant stroke in a delightful evening bound to be a huge hit with audiences.

Here’s the set-up: Johnson plays Bernard, a philanderer whose wife, Jacqueline (Gorrell-Getz), plans a weekend trip to visit her mother. Unaware that Jacqueline is having an affair with Robert (Williams), Bernard invites his mistress, Suzanne (Sitton) and Robert for the weekend. Robert will provide an alibi in case Jacqueline finds out Bernard was not alone. She can pretend to be Robert’s mistress.

Jacqueline cancels her trip when she answers the phone and finds out Robert is at the station. Having been prepped by Bernard, Robert is left alone while the married couple shops. He is greeted by the arrival of a woman named Suzette, who is, in reality, a gourmet cook hired for the weekend. Confusion compounds when he mistakes her for Bernard’s mistress. Further complications ensue, numerous doors are slammed and one laughs uproariously from start to finish. One of the funniest bits concerns the instant modification by Bernard and Robert of Suzette’s maid’s uniform (costume magic by Michelle Hunt Souza). Chris Luessmann’s sound design adds to the overall merriment.

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” continues through Nov. 16, playing at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays with selected Wednesday evening and Saturday matinee performances.

For tickets ($39-$45), visit www.northcoastrep.org or call (858) 481-1055.
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