Fun little romp works on keeping up the pace

By Dean Arcuri

Mistaken identity, secret affairs and bed-swapping antics lay the perfect groundwork for a night of laughter in the Eltham Performing Arts Centre this month.

Husband and wife Bernard (Phil Holmes) & Jacqueline (Raine Dinale) hide their affairs in plain sight on a weekend away, but when Suzette (Jackie Fraser) is confused with Suzanne (Penny Bolton), a jumble of comedic deception ensues in Eltham Little Theatre Inc’s Don’t Dress for Dinner by Marc Camoletti.

Comedy all comes down to timing and I felt the story and comedic moments dragged as we entered into the heavier twist of the plot at the play’s conclusion, but this was not something shared by the rest of the audience.

I was one of the few under 40s in attendance so perhaps I am simply used to a faster sense of timing, but I was still chuckling along as the crowd laughed and even cheered upon the repetition of some of Bernard’s lies as he has to think quick in order to avoid Jacqueline’s wrath.

Homles, Dinale and James Carlon (Robert) have the daunting task of establishing and deconstructing all the comic elements in play which is no mean feat. It’s to their credit that they were able to keep so many plot points juggling and keep us laughling along without being often bewildered.

Thanks to their groundwork Fraser & Bolton then burst into the thick of it, taking this farce to another level.  Deitre Kunz’s cameo as George would have been better served using his natural voice rather than experimenting with accents, as he’s given little time to establish himself. He and Frazer bounce off one another with ease and upon their exit you noticed the stark difference between marital relations we’d experienced all night.

I can’t help feeling a good half an hour could have been shaved off this performance through tighter cast work and by opening up the staging to give the cast more freedom of movement, as they were either on top of each other or positioned at too far a distance to work intimately.

Eltham Little Theatre Inc certainly lives up to their local community claim as ‘a little theatre company with a big heart’ as everyone left entertained, and were welcomed to supper with the cast and crew.

Don’t Dress for Dinner: 15th to 31st March 


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