On Theater: Golden West doesn't have to dress to impress

October 20, 2010|By Tom Titus
  • Josh Allton (Bernard), left, and Danelle Von Visger (Suzanne) in "Don't Dress for Dinner."
Josh Allton (Bernard), left, and Danelle Von Visger (Suzanne)… (HB Independent )

Probably the toughest part of staging a farcical comedy such as Golden West College's "Don't Dress for Dinner," at least on opening night, is holding for laughs without disrupting the required frantic pace of the play.

The laughs do come thick and fast in this uproarious production, often at the expense of the next line of dialogue, but this deficiency should be remedied as the show closes its brief engagement this weekend and the cast has familiarized itself with the frequency and volume of audience response.

Director Martie Ramm, who viewed the London production of Marc Camoletti's sex-themed play in the early 1990s and put it on her personal to-do list, has mounted a slick, bouncy version (Americanized, though not thoroughly, by Robin Hawdon) with a cast of actors well drilled in the art of physical comedy.

This rendition is set in a tidy home in upstate New York, renovated from a barn (among its bedrooms are the "cowshed' and the "piggery") where Bernard (Josh Allton) is preparing a weekend of illicit romance once he gets his wife (Amalia Eddene Lytle) out of town.


Trouble is her plans fall through and she learns Bernard's old buddy Robert (Tony Graham), with whom she's been conducting her own hanky-panky, is an invited guest. There's also a cook (Chantelle Rosinsky) on the way to prepare dinner, but she becomes confused with the mistress (Danelle Von Visger) since they have similar names and both answer to Susie.

The plot itself is funny enough, but when the farcical wheels are put into motion and push literally comes to shove, all Hades breaks loose. At this point, the actors convey more with facial and physical gestures (especially Allton) than with sophisticated repartee.

As the engineer of the complicated caper, Allton becomes more like a traffic cop, steering other actors in varying directions as he strives to keep the charade alive. Graham excels at the task of stubborn refusal until he's ultimately sucked into the scheme.

Lytle is cool and classy as Jacqueline, the wife, erupting with vigor when the truth emerges. Von Visger is a statuesque beauty whose best moments come when she's fitted with an apron and cap and, despite her protests, forced into an unfamiliar room — the kitchen.

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