Evening shows from Tues - Sat.
Thursday matinees 22 & 29 June.
Saturday matinees every week.
Sunday matinees from 21 May (excl. 28 May).
“This show is right up there with The Mill’s very high standards.”Henley Standard
“Two hours of sheer high-energy fun and frolic. A great night out.”Reading Chronicle
HENLEY STANDARD – Mike Rowbottom
You have to love the French: adultery is the unwritten part of their constitution, unhindered by moral issues, entirely accepted, governed only by its expense.
Robin Hawdon’s adaptation of Marc Camoletti’s Don’t Dress For Dinner makes sure this Gallic tradition doesn’t flag and Ron Aldridge’s skilful use of the Mill’s stage keeps up a breakneck speed.
The story: man plots a dirty weekend with his mistress while his wife is planning the same with her husband’s best friend. Both plans are thwarted at the beginning of the play and the next two hours is a series of misunderstandings, very singular double entendres and mistaken or mis-allocated identity and they each try to hide it from the other.
So far, so farcical and this show is right up there with The Mill’s very high standards. But there’s an extra ingredient here on top of a well-chosen cast who give their all and leak buckets of perspiration in the process.
We last saw her at the Mill last year as Elvira is Blithe Spirit when she stole the show. She does the same here as a mouthy cook who is, in turns, dowdy, common, sexy, alluring and always appealing. The very best thing about her is her timing, it’s exquisite with just the right amount of duration and weight given to every syllable to make it work at its best for her. That cannot be taught, it comes from within.
She is magnificent as the cook determined to cash in on her employers’ embarrassment.
Special mention also for Amber Edlin as the disloyal wife: she’s a stunner raising the question of why on earth her husband, played by Nick Waring, would want to stray. But this is a French adaptation so of course he does - he’d be abusing the constitution if he didn’t.
His best friend, Rikki Lawton’s Robert, dominates his scenes with his energy and controlled abandon.
Camoletti also wrote Boeing Boeing which The Mill staged a couple of years ago and it obviously suits the theatre and its audience; we live in different times and the French idea of morality, or lack of it, fits our time much better than it might have done in previous decades.
This production of Don’t Dress For Dinner revels in that naughtiness and so do we.
READING CHRONICLE – Carol Evans
What's in a name? Quite a lot actually, but never more so than when two women called Suzy turn up in Don't Dress for Dinner, the latest delicious dish being served at The Mill at Sonning, writes Carol Evans.
And with illicit bedroom chicanery the anticipated climax, we can expect plenty of hilarious confusion and misunderstandings as events unfold. Add quick-fire, spot-on comic timing to the mix from a cast who keep the pace moving like a bullet, audiences are in for a real treat.
Marc Camoletti's witty farce is set just outside Paris where philandering Bernard is sending his wife Jacqui off to visit her mother so he can share some naughty nooky with his mistress Suzy (aka Suzanne).
But his plans are thwarted when Jacqui learns that his best friend Robert (her secret lover) has been invited too and so decides to stay. Bernard panics big-time and persuades a reluctant Robert to say he's Suzanne's paramour. Enter Cordon Bleu cook Suzy (aka Suzette) - who Robert mistakes for Suzanne - and the ingredients are in place for what turns out to be two hours of sheer high-energy fun and frolic.
A catalogue of lies, deceptions and misunderstandings unfold with webs of intrigue becoming more tangled as cover-up stories and explanations become more bizarre. Ron Aldridge directs a well-focused cast who throw themselves into the chaos with enthusiasm.
Nick Waring never lets up his frenetic pace as the panic-stricken philanderer Bernard. Rikki Lawton is excellent as the perplexed and put-upon Robert. Amber Edlin is convincing as furious deceived wife and mistress Jacqui. Carla Freeman is a baffled Suzanne who has somehow ended up doing the cooking.
But by far the best part, and the funniest, is that of Suzette (a brilliantly sparky Finty Williams) who gets asked to play a number of different roles to flesh out the menfolk's lies - earning herself a tidy extra sum in tips.
This is farce at its best, no continual door-slamming or trouser-dropping; the focus here is more on clever word play and unbelievable situations played so believably, one is tempted to think that what we are seeing is pretty normal. A great night out.
Bernard has planned a romantic weekend to the finest detail.
The Cordon Bleu chef is on her way, the champagne is on ice and he’s put on his best shirt for the occasion. Everything is nicely falling into place… he just needs to get rid of his wife.
With his best friend Robert due to arrive to provide the perfect alibi, Bernard’s plans are thrown into chaos when Jacqueline, his wife, announces that she won’t be going to visit her mother after all. The problem is, his mistress Suzanne is on her way, so he needs to devise a plan at lightning speed to stop all hell from breaking loose.
He enlists Robert’s help to pretend to be Suzanne’s boyfriend, but when the cook, Suzette, shows up early, Robert gets the wrong end of the stick and thinks she is the one he needs to pretend to woo. But it’s not so straightforward for him either, as he is secretly having an affair with Jacqueline behind Bernard’s back!
So not only is he trying desperately to keep the wrong ‘Suzy’ in the loop, he needs to keep his own mistress happy while trying to protect his friend – phew!
In typical Mill style, Don’t Dress For Dinner is a laugh-a-minute romp with more innuendos, confused identities and double entendres than you could shake a stick at, and it is compelling to watch.
The star of the show has to be Rikki Lawton who plays the beleaguered friend Robert. He tries so hard to keep everything together, even when it means his own manhood could be on the line!
His and Bernard (played by Nick Waring)’s chemistry onstage is hilarious, and provide the audience with a real love-to-hate duo.
Finty Williams shines as the not-so-ditzy cook Suzette, who plays along with the game for her own financial gain. One of the highlights of the show is a clever redressing of her uniform by Bernard and Robert, and the look on her face when a slinky little black dress is revealed is comedy gold.
Carla Freeman plays the sultry mistress Suzanne who, being lured to the house under the pretence of enjoying a naughty weekend with Bernard, spends more of her time locked away in the kitchen.
Amber Edlin, who plays unsuspecting wife Jacqueline, does a superb job of stringing the suspense along: will she work out what is going on between Bernard and Suzanne? Will her and Robert be found out? Or will she and Bernard realise the error of their ways and spend the night together?
Don’t Dress For Dinner, written by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Robin Hawdon, is a classic French farce which will leave your head spinning and your sides aching.
If you can keep up with the action and the layers and layers of deceit being played out on stage, you’ll enjoy a fantastic night out.