"Don't Dress for Dinner" - by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon - Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. at the Bradley Playhouse (Putnam, CT) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: Christine Healy as "Jacqueline" and Alison Wiza as "Suzanne" from "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through January 21, 2024. Photo Credit Lindsay Shaw Lehmann)


By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724


“Well, it looks to me as if the delicate situation is getting more delicate by the minute!”
 

                                                       - ("Suzette")  / Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon

Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. 

at the Bradley Playhouse 

Presents 

"DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER"

Written by Marc Camoletti

Adapted by Robin Hawdon

Directed by Kathleen Atwood

Cast Includes: Dan Healy as "Bernard"; Christine Healy as "Jacqueline"; David Ring as "Robert"; Alison Wiza as "Suzanne"; Tonya Brock as "Suzette"; William Corriveau as "George"

Additional Creative Team:

Stage Manager - Mike Krauss; Artistic Committee Liaison - Greg Brock; Production Manager - Jeanne Foley; Production Coordinator - Kathleen Atwood; Set Design - Carl Mercier; Set Artist - Jason Preston; Set Painters - Franny Melzer, Finn Haney, David Abbamonte, Colin Bragdon, Mike Krauss; Costumer - Kris Brandriff; Wig Design - Rebecca Theriaque; Props - Melinda Collelo, Bonnie Theriault; Lighting and Sound Design - Carl Mercier; Light Operator - Roger Hammond; Sound Operator - Wendy Harris; Set Construction - Carl Mercier, Mike Krauss, David Abbamonte, Nic Caggiano, Dan Healy, Jude Sargent, Spencer LaBell, Kat MacInnes, Colin Bragdon, Finn Haney; Photography - Lindsay Shaw Lehmann; Volunteer Coordinator - Cindy Beckman; Business Manager - Kristi-Lyn Sadosky.

Performances:

January 12, 2024 through January 21, 2024  

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

THE BRADLEY PLAYHOUSE, 30 Front Street (Route 44) in Putnam, CT.  

TICKETS       

All seats reserved. Reservations may be made with a major credit card online at www.thebradleyplayhouse.org or by calling 860-928-7887.   

COVID 19 PROTOCOLS

Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

The Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. presents the deliciously tawdry farce "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER"...serving up many laughs from this non-stop naughty slapstick bedroom farce. 

The production also serves as a mini-reunion of several cast members from Bradley's pre-pandemic production of the play's "prequel" (of sorts), "BOEING, BOEING" from 2020.

In this adaptation of the two-act play “Pyjama Pour Six” by French playwright Marc Camoletti, the Tony® Award-nominated comedy is set in the 1960s at a rural home near Paris

While "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" is touted as a sequel (of sorts) to Marc Camoletti's "BOEING, BOEING" that description feels a bit inaccurate. 

The comedy, as similar events and escapades unfold, feels more like the same show, only existing in a parallel universe with only its two main "protagonists" (if they can actually be called that) returning.  

By the latter half of the show's second act, attempts by Camoletti to untie all the knots in the web of lies his script has woven throughout the show becomes a Herculean feat...but he ultimately succeeds.

(Photo: Dan Healy as "Bernard" and Tonya Brock as "Suzette" in a scene from the comedy, "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through January 21, 2024. Photo Credit Lindsay Shaw Lehmann)

The intricate adulterous plotting by two lecherous men involving three tantalizing women is elevated to pure unadulterated pasquinade thanks to by the ingenious dialogue supplied by Robin Hawdon

Under the clear, concise direction of Kathleen Atwood, "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" never falters, except when certain characters are supposed to falter. 

Written in 1987, "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" ran in London for six years and opened on Broadway in 2012

In Hawdon's adaptation of Camoletti’s script, presumably in order to preserve Camoletti’s original dialogue, some standard European colloquialisms and verbiage seem out of place, especially for those actors not using European accents. 

However, as a general rule, should any theatre group be intent on staging something obviously set in Europe, please - use the corresponding, appropriate accents. Otherwise, many of the inherent references just leave audiences tilting their heads in confusion.

Ultimately, this did not dissuade the audience from enjoying the show as the Bradley cast executed the material quite well and laughs were consistent throughout the performance. 

As "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" starts, socialite (and apparent serial philanderer, if one recalls the events of "BOEING, BOEING") Bernard (Dan Healy) is (once again) setting up for a secretive rendezvous. 

Bernard has made plans to have a weekend alone with his sultry and seductive mistress, Suzanne (Alison Wiza), in his quaint converted French farmhouse. 

Bernard has convinced his wife, Jacqueline (Christine Healy), to go see her mother for a visit. With Jacqueline away, Bernard has also hired a clever, quick-witted Cordon Bleu chef, Suzette (Tonya Brock), to come in and cook. 

Bernard has (presumably, once again, if you buy into the "sequel" premise) persuaded his friend, Robert (David Ring), to participate in his outlandish scheme by asking Robert to come over for a fabulous dinner, thereby providing Bernard with the perfect alibi and opportunity for his affair.

(Photo: Dan Healy as "Bernard" and David Ring as "Robert" find themselves entangled - in more ways than one - in "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through January 21, 2024. Photo Credit Lindsay Shaw Lehmann)

Bernard confides with Robert that, with Jacqueline gone, he plans to bed his mistress in one of the spare rooms in the house. 

Brock is versatile and outrageously funny as Suzette, forced into an "Eliza Doolittle transformation", morphing from rudimentary cook to high class model, actress, adulteress - and niece - as she is mistaken for Suzanne and her role charges...uh, changes...from beginning to end. 

At the show's peak, she keeps her cash register filled and her head level as, simultaneously, Robert and Bernard collectively lose their money and their minds as they watch their respective, yet interwoven, web of deceit unravel. 

One element complicating matters most is that, unbeknownst to Bernard, Suzanne and Suzette, Robert and Jacqueline are ALSO secret lovers.

Ring is wonderfully amiable as Robert and a perfect comedic accomplice for Healy as Bernard. 

Neither of the men could be considered "fast thinkers" by nature yet, as circumstances go from bad to worse to just "Oh My God" they are forced to do just that...think fast.

Healy and Ring make a top-notch pairing, not only because of the writing, but also in terms of their chemistry on stage. 

Realizing Robert will be there, Jacqueline seizes the opportunity and decides to remain at home, throwing all of Bernard’s plans into turmoil. 

As Jacqueline, Healy almost has us rooting for her, even though she is just as guilty as Bernard and Robert and can come off as abrasive at times. 

In "BOEING, BOEING" the main complaint was how the show hasn't aged well with societal norms no longer what they were when Camoletti first envisioned the characters in his original premise. 

In other words, the overall premise came off as overtly sexist and shows female characters as vain, needy and shallow.

Not so, here. 

With the more contemporary adaptation by Robin Hawdon, in "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" the women come off as far more on par with the men, being just as clever, manipulative, and determined.

Given the propensity of Bernard and Robert, themselves, to be "vain, needy and shallow"...perhaps the scales have been balanced, if ever so slightly. 

Yet does anyone by the end of this show come off rising above their own character flaws? You'll just have to see the show to find out. 

What ensues is a series of lies, deceptions, mistaken identities and misunderstandings…followed by more lies to cover up the original lies, deceptions, mistaken identities and misunderstandings, most of the time done with precise comedic timing. 

When you do see the show, if you find yourself feeling exhausted by the end, then this cast did its job and did it well.

And make no mistake, this cast does its job well.

Both Christine Healy and Dan Healy have terrific chemistry as the adulterous Jacqueline and Bernard, playing the characters as more mischievous than mean spirited. 

Neither seems to be intentionally trying to hurt the other as they pursue their extramarital activities. 

Wiza is a comedic delight as Bernard's actual voluptuous mistress Suzanne, and was able to earn laughs just as much by simply providing a simple reaction during events happening on stage as through her various blindsided retorts. 

Suzanne's dialogue exchanges with Jacqueline during the show's second act, however, provided additional depth and insight into both of their characters (especially as they try to formulate a plan to get back at the boorish Bernard). 

The underwritten character of Suzette's husband, George (William Corriveau), is only briefly seen in the show's second act. However, William Corriveau makes excellent use of the limited time during which he appears.

(Photo: Christine Healy as "Jacqueline" and Alison Wiza as "Suzanne" in a scene from the bedroom farce, "DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" by Marc Camoletti and Robin Hawdon now playing at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. through January 21, 2024. Photo Credit Lindsay Shaw Lehmann)

The entire production flows impeccably well with no stumbles with the dialogue, which can be complex at times. 

Costumes by Kris Brandriff, especially those worn by the women in the cast, were equally impeccable, especially when needing to maintain that tasteful balance between the risqué and elegant. 

The set design by Carl Mercier, along with set artist Jason Preston and the entire Bradley team, is well constructed and served the intricate staging quite well. 

"DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER" continues at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam, CT. until January 21st, and is definitely worth seeing.

Up next for the Theatre Of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. at the Bradley Playhouse will be "LITTLE WOMEN - THE PLAY" by Kevin Cunningham running from February 23rd through March 3rd, 2024

For tickets or more information, check out The Bradley Playhouse by visiting them online at www.thebradleyplayhouse.org or by calling them at # 860-928-7887.   

Approximately two hours, 30 minutes with one intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 

@MetrmagReviews

@Theatre_Critics 

ABOUT THE SHOW

Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress in his charming converted French farmhouse, whilst his wife, Jacqueline, is away. 

He has arranged for a cordon bleu cook to prepare gourmet delights, and has invited his best friend, Robert, along too to provide the alibi. 

It's foolproof; what could possibly go wrong? 

Well... suppose Robert turns up not realizing quite why he has been invited. 

Suppose Robert and Jacqueline are secret lovers, and consequently determined that Jacqueline will NOT leave for the weekend. 

Suppose the cook has to pretend to be the mistress and the mistress can't cook. 

Suppose everyone's alibi gets confused with everyone else's. 

An evening of hilarious confusion ensues as Bernard and Robert improvise at breakneck speed.

This boulevard comedy was a smash hit in Paris, where it played for over two years, and in London, where it ran for six years at the Apollo and Duchess Theatres

It has since played in theatres all over the USA and the English speaking world and was revived in Chicago and on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in 2012

This production was nominated for two Tony awards

ABOUT THE BRADLEY PLAYHOUSE

THE BRADLEY PLAYHOUSE is a 117 year-old vaudeville theatre in the heart of the Putnam antiques and restaurant district in the “Quiet Corner” of Northeastern Connecticut.  Since 1991, THE BRADLEY PLAYHOUSE has been managed by the volunteers of The Theatre of Northeastern Connecticut, Inc. (TNECT).  


ABOUT THEATRE OF NORTHEASTERN CONNECTICUT (TNECT)

TNECT produces eight main season shows per year and a number of special fundraising events for The Bradley Playhouse Restoration Fund. TNECT’s mission is to produce and sponsor quality theatre and entertainment for the residents of Northeastern Connecticut and the surrounding areas, to encourage the development of creativity through the support of local artists, and to support education and hands-on experience in the creation, direction, and production of theatre and the performing arts.

THE BRADLEY PLAYHOUSE

30 Front Street

P.O. Box 71

Putnam, CT 06260-1942

www.thebradleyplayhouse.org