Don't Dress For Dinner

Malvern Theatres


Creating a fast-paced farce is no laughing matter as it's a tough act to get right.

That's apparent at the start of Don't Dress For Dinner as it takes a little while to get into gear and feels a little laboured.

Thankfully, from about 20 minutes in, it seems to find its feet.

It helps that this Jordan Production in association with Eastbourne Theatres has a cast of experienced comedy hands. Sara Crowe, star of many films and shows including Carry On Columbus, The Harry Enfield Show and the Philadelphia adverts, is the hard done-by wife Jacqueline who upsets her slippery husband's attempt to have a dirty weekend with his mistress at their French country pad.

She plays baffled innocence to a tee although her character has her own secrets to hide with her husband's best friend Robert, an excellent Damian Williams.

sara crowe

Janine Mellor as caterer Suzette and Sara Crowe as Jecqueline

Williams stands out for not only playing his character so well but also ad-libbing throughout by reacting to forgotten lines, sneezes in the audience and other unexpected events with quick-witted panache. It's no surprise that he's described as a "well respected farceur" after touring in theatre for over 25 years. The Essex-born actor was also in the new series of Birds Of A Feather and you feel the comedy is in safe hands with him controlling the action.

On opening night, actor Chris Jordan had to step in to replace lead Ben Roddy as husband Bernard and deserves praise for slipping into the part and cast so well, despite a few slip ups.

Although the show runs along pretty smoothly through a bizarre, frivolous plot (set in France although no-one is French), it does feel a little dated.

The cunning cook who has to play along with the shenanigans is demanding her ransom in Francs, not Euros, if that gives you some indication of its era. It is however a well performed production that offers a gentle blanket of humour to those who enjoy a comedy sitcom. To 20-05-17

Alison Brinkworth


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