Theater Review: Don’t Dress For Dinner at NC Stage Company

Photo courtesy of NC Stage

When it comes to guaranteed laughs, the comedy team of Charlie Flynn-McIver and Scott Treadway has become something of the Hope and Crosby, or perhaps the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis of Western North Carolina. Nowhere is this more evident than in Don’t Dress For Dinner, currently onstage at NC Stage Company. One of the longest running comedies in the history of theater, Marc Camoletti’s French farce is an unofficial follow up to the hit play Boeing! Boeing! (which NC Stage and Flat Rock Playhouse have previously staged with these two brilliant actors.) The hi-jinks are non-stop under the guidance of director Neela Munoz, and a top-shelf cast.

Bernard (Flynn-McIve) is planning a romantic weekend with his mistress, Suzanne. He has enlisted his pal Robert (Treadway) to cover for him. Bernard’s wife Jacqueline plans to visit her mother for the weekend. Things change rapidly when Jacqueline finds out that Robert is coming and decides to stick around. Why? Because she and Robert are also having an affair. Things only get more complicated when the hired cook, Suzette, arrives. Robert assumes Suzanne Bernard’s mistress and to help Bernard, Robert is say that Suzanne is his girlfriend to throw Jacqueline off the trail. However, Jacqueline is angered that Robert has a girlfriend and is cheating on her. Robert’s mistake of the cook for the mistress means the mistress has to pretend to be cook. Robert and Bernard have to spin things even farther in order to maintain the ruse. By the time the cook’s husband arrives to collect her, all manner of buffoonery has unfolded. This isn’t a spoiler because it isn’t what happens, as much as how it all happens that makes this play such a delight to watch.

Trinity Smith steals more than a few moments as the cunning cook, Suzette, who cashes in on the chaos. Alice Eacho’s Suzanne is perfect, as she stumbles along pretending to be the cook, while trying to align her sleeping arrangements with Bernard. Jennifer Gatti is in fine form as Jacqueline, who is essentially the “straight man” in this comedy of errors. Strother Stingley makes the most out of having the least to do as George, Suzette’s hulking husband, who’s very arrival leads to the unraveling of the increasingly ludicrous events. A wild chase around the impressively rustic set is the crescendo to a tight two hours of pure comedy gold. One particular moment that brings down the house, is when Robert and Bernard turn Suzette’s mousy cook’s dress into a hot black mini-dress, on stage and in front of our eyes. It gets some hearty laughs and a well-deserved round of applause.

WHAT: Don’t Dress For Dinner
WHERE: NC Stage, ncstage.org
WHEN: Through Sunday, Dec. 7, Wednesdays through Saturdays, at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, at 2 p.m. $16-$34

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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