Dont Dress WEB

Don't Dress for Dinner

by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon

25 May – 3 June 2023

Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his Parisian mistress, while his wife, Jacqueline is away. He has arranged for a cook to prepare gourmet delights and has invited his best friend Robert along as alibi. What could possibly go wrong? Well…. suppose Robert turns up, not realising why he’s been invited. Suppose Jacqueline and Robert are secret lovers and she’s determined not to leave for the weekend. Suppose the cook has to pretend to be the mistress and the mistress is unable to cook. Suppose everyone’s alibi gets confused with everyone else’s. An evening of hilarious confusion ensues.

DDfD web

Photos: Gail Bishop


Bernard Robin Clark
Jacqueline Lucy Auva
Robert Richard Haslam
Suzette   Penny Parker
Suzanne   Abigail Pedrick
George   Jan Kool
Director Peter Damesick


May 2023

Theo Spring

It takes a real knowledge of the demands of farce and a truly excellent cast to deliver this fast-paced comedy, which begins its complicated plot right from the moment the curtain rises.

Living some miles from Paris, married couple Bernard and Jacqueline are both in the throes of secret affairs. Jacqueline is off to visit her mother for the weekend and Bernard’s best buddy Robert is coming to stay with Bernard. An early phone call (and several more after that) changes everything as Jacqueline finds out Robert is coming and, as he is her lover, she opts to stay. Add in a cook, come to provide fine dining, given mistaken identity by Robert and who is game to take on any identity either Bernard or Robert are increasingly required to create for her, Bernard’s glamourous mistress who can’t cook for toffee and finally an irate husband, and the laughs speedily spill one onto another. 

Familiar in farce on the Miller Centre stage, Robin Clark as Bernard leads the ensuing chaos with perfect timing and great interaction with his ‘buddy’. One can almost see his theatrical mind ticking as he thinks up the next excuse to explain all the identity problems that begin to ensue. Equally fast on his feet, albeit in the role of having to elucidate Bernard’s plans, Richard Haslam as Robert helps create more comedy both within the script and by adding comic touches with both body language and some wonderful facial expressions. He also gets top marks for his more than complex summing up of how all the muddle occurred in the first place – a real tongue twister and, were we able to follow his speed, undoubtedly accurate too!

As Bernard’s wife, Jacqueline, Lucy Auva gives an initial aura of sanity to the proceedings – rightly doubting some of the explanations she is given but, having put ‘mother’ off by inventing a bad cold, is delighted to discover she will have her lover under her roof for the whole weekend. Until, due to frantically invented explanations, Bernard explains that the cook is, in fact, Robert’s mistress!

The number of identities thrust upon Suzette, the cook, so entertainingly played by Penny Parker, grows as the play progresses with each new personae eliciting a fee of €50. The comedy skills demanded of this role are very well served here as she changes herself from a cook, hired to provide cordon bleu for a gathering, to a femme fatale believable as Robert’s mistress. Her instant on-stage costume transformation from dowdy waitress to classy guest is both well executed and very clever. 

Elegance is the stock-in-trade of Suzanne – the mistress Bernard planned to entertain that weekend with Abigail Pendrick delivering the wow-factor on her entrance, in such a huge contrast to Suzette the cook. (The similarity of the names is intentional to add more to the confusion). Because the actual cook has already been identified as Robert’s mistress, the arrival of beautifully-dressed Suzanne can only mean she must be the cook! Comic scenes ensue with that lovely green dress becoming kitchen-stained as poor Suzanne flounders around in the kitchen. 

One of the final twists is the appearance of Suzette, the real cook’s, husband George with Jan Kool making his mark as the protective spouse who, of course, gets the wrong end of the stick before an explanation to calm him down. 

All this comic chaos takes place in the sitting room of a beautifully converted barn with an amazing set designed by Katie McMullen. The doors are rustic and lead to bedrooms with names like the piggery or the cow shed whilst stairs lead to bedrooms in the ‘hayloft’.  A well-stocked bar helps to increase the confusion and the room is very tastefully furnished. Costumes are well thought out and wardrobe by Berry Butler brings on some very fancy bedtime-wear. 

Director Peter Damesick has added in many comic touches as well as bringing together a play with so much pace there is hardly time to draw breath, so huge congratulations to him and to his excellent cast, which comes with many thanks from an audience who really enjoyed this evening of light-hearted fun. A tonic we all very much appreciated.