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Review Roundup: DON'T DRESS FOR DINNER - All the Reviews!

Linda Winer, Newsday: If we really must have a resurgence of low farce on Broadway -- and, alas, it appears we must -- please let Spencer Kayden get cast as often as possible. This delicious comic actress, not seen much around here since her priceless Little Sally 11 years ago in "Urinetown," has a deadpan combination of daffiness and discipline that brings a merry dignity to the most idiotic routines.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: "Don't Dress for Dinner," the little bon bon that French playwright Marc Camoletti dashed off after "Boeing-Boeing," ran for seven years in Blighty, where auds dearly love a naughty French sex farce featuring philandering husbands, saucy mistresses and lots of well-oiled doors. After working up this high-gloss version of Robin Hawdon's crafty adaptation at Chicago's Royal George Theater a few years ago, veteran helmer John Tillinger brings it in with an A-list design team and a cast that knows how to negotiate the sublimely silly conventions of classic farce.

Matt Windman, AM New York: There are two new farces now on Broadway. Oddly enough, both revolve around dinner scenes. While one of them is hilarious, the other is as painful as a tooth pulling. "One Man, Two Guvnors," Richard Bean's giddy update of the commedia dell'arte classic "The Servant of Two Masters," is one. The other is Marc Cameletti's "Don't Dress for Dinner," which is now receiving its Broadway premiere following two decades of regional productions, is a derivative and labored sequel to Cameletti's farce "Boeing-Boeing," which had a hit Broadway revival four seasons ago...Except for a few visual gags, William Ivey Long's divine costumes and the delightfully quirky Kayden, don't expect any such magic from John Tillinger's dull pedestrian production.

Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: I found “Don’t Dress for Dinner” to be head-knockingly convoluted. So do its characters, as they try to explain what’s going on as the two-act moves to resolve itself; part of the gag is that when they attempt to sort everything out, you can’t follow a thing they are saying past the first two sentences...In the end, it didn’t matter, since the situation of the moment becomes clear with a nastily aimed squirt of a seltzer bottle or a shove that has people falling over the side of a couch. It is farce, after all. And it is, after all is said, fun.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: Were I ever to teach a course in how to stage farce, I'd show a video of the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of "Don't Dress for Dinner" so that my students would know what not to do...When done well, it's a hoot, but John Tillinger, the director, has made the amateurish mistake of encouraging his actors to troll aggressively for laughs instead of letting the situation generate them. Only Ms. Kayden resists the temptation to overegg the pudding, turning in a poker-faced performance that deserves to be remembered at Tony time. Everybody else, especially Mr. James, carries on like Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace," which is the quickest possible way to kill a farce stone dead.

Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: While the mayhem in Don't Dress for Dinner never rises to the dizzying heights of Boeing-Boeing, there are plenty of gut-busting moments to savor. And just be glad you didn't have to taste Suzanne's combination of cheese soufflé and baked Alaska.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Back on Broadway for the first time since playing Little Sally in “Urinetown,” Kayden is extra dry with a twist, and steals the evening. You keep wishing she’d get more stage time . . . in another show. [...] This Roundabout show is a slog.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: There are some dry patches, but veteran director John Tillinger keeps thing moving fairly lickety-split. One wishes he’d found a way to make more out of the country-house setting. Kayden, meantime, gets maximum laughs from Suzette as she tangoes, topples and tipples her way through the role. Each time Bernard or Robert impose upon Suze to keep up their charade, she obliges but first sticks out her paw for payment. It’s a fitting image for the actress who holds the show in her palm of her hand.

Robert Feldberg, There are few things in the theater more distressing than a labored farce.

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