News and Tribune

January 10, 2014

WHALEY: DDP’s ‘Don’t Dress for Dinner’: G-rated romp through infidelity

By CHARLES WHALEY
newsroom@newsandtribune.com

CLARKSVILLE — They’re well and truly gobsmacked, those boneheaded characters hellbent on marital infidelity in Derby Dinner Playhouse’s “Don’t Dress for Dinner.”

Over and over they’re flabbergasted, shocked, astounded, and astonished (gobsmacked, as the British say) when their complicated attempts to bed their paramours take wacky hard-to-explain twists in French farceur Marc Camoletti’s sequel to his earlier (and better) “Boeing Boeing.”

Director Jim Hesselman’s game-for-whatever-comes cast romps through this naughty G-rated exercise with considerable physical and verbal dexterity.

John Vessels as Bernard and Cary Wiger as his best friend Robert have devised a plan to allow Bernard to entertain his glamorous mistress Suzanne (Jillian Prefach) while his wife Jacqueline (the excellent Tina Jo Wallace) is away visiting her mother.

But everything falls through because Jacqueline decides not to leave when she finds out that Robert, her lover (are you keeping up with this?), is coming to stay at the house.

Then Suzette (Sara King), a Cordon Bleu chef “booked to cook” that weekend by Bernard for his tryst, turns up and is paid handsomely to pretend that she is other people (don’t ask). King, so delightful as the fierce German flight attendant when Derby Dinner did “Boeing Boeing,” once again wows.

As she tucks periodic cash payments for her acquiescence into her ample bosom, Bernard asks, “What have you got in there, an ATM?”

Kudos to Vessels and Wiger for the droll on-the-mark way they handle their outrageous roles.

Camoletti’s play, originally adapted into English by Robin Hawdon, is now set in a converted farmhouse outside Alexandria, Va. Updates include Jacqueline’s doing some Miley Cyrus twerking at one point.

Keep an eye on that expensive mink coast that Bernard’s sexy mistress sports. And tremble as chef Suzette’s “oversized” husband, tough-talking George (Nick Fitzer) looms in the doorway to ask where his wife is.

Oh, how those feeble desperate explanations pile up and seemingly make sense off and on but not for long.

Relish director Hesselman’s inventive slow-motion free-for-all, a second act highlight, and his way with sofa cushions that Wiger uses to make a point.

As you tut-tut these harebrained creatures while laughing at their antics they may frequently strike you as not too unreal.

“Don’t Dress for Dinner” runs through Feb. 16. For tickets and information call 812-288-8281, toll free 877-898-8577, or www.derbydinner.com.