There are about three really funny things in DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER adapted by Robin Hawdon from the original French play by Marc Camoletti. best known for his international hit “Boeing-Boeing” and now being presented by The Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines theatre.
Originally titled “Pajamas Pour Six” when it first opened in Paris in 1987 and ran for over two years and then for six in London, its adaptation has now graced our shores. Mon Dieu!
The three funny things in this extremely broad, trouser dropping, siphon spraying, big bosom, slap stick silly, fleetingly funny 1960’s set French farce are:
1. The brilliant and right on target performance of Spencer Kayden as Suzette – a cook hired for the evening by Bernard (a springy, light footed Adam James) for a dinner in his country home two hours outside of Paris with his mistress Suzanne (a bizarre, large busted Jennifer Tilly of unknown origin) while his wife, Jacqueline (a chic Patricia Kalember) visits her mother. But when she hears that her lover Robert (Ben Daniels) is arriving she manages to stay resulting is all kinds of misunderstandings and shenanigans typical of a French farce. Only here the hoped for soufflé, falls flat.
2. The quick on stage transformation of Suzette from her cook’s uniform to a strapless little black dress – courtesy of William Ivey Long. She is posing as the niece of Robert and demanding two hundred francs every time she is recruited to playact and not cook, which is often – a running gag that works beautifully thanks to Ms. Kayden.
3. The unfortunate wig that Jacqueline has hanging on her head in Act II. I hope it’s a wig.
The dialogue is reminiscent of the Abbott and Costello skit – Who’s on first? The actors, under the misguided direction of John Tillinger, are encouraged to be as broad as possible being positioned in pseudo graphic sexual poses that are awkward rather than amusing. Played straight this might have worked. Quel dommage! (What a pity!).
It is only the lovely Spencer Kayden that appears to know what she is doing as she transforms from a meek cook to a mistress and then a niece and then a tango dancer all with style and finesse while awaiting the arrival of her husband George (David Aron Damane) who supplies the evening’s denouement.
There is one other very funny moment. Ms. Kayden’s final exit!
www.roundabouttheatre.org Photos: Joan Marcus
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