A tasty theatrical treat

2012-02-21 00:00

KICKSTART Theatre Company has cooked up a cordon bleu comedy offering, which will leave you giggling long after the curtain calls end.

French playwright Marc Camoletti’s hilarious farce, Don’t Dress For Dinner, is given an mzansi twist, which sees the setting of the piece move to an upmarket game lodge near the Kruger Park.

Greg King’s set iFs a stunner — there’s plenty of Afro chic, animal-hide rugs and wall ornaments, and such is the attention to detail that you can even see the “thatch” in the roof. If ever King needs a few bob, he could easily become a sought-after interior designer.

His picture-perfect backdrop, which is beautifully lit by the talented Tina le Roux, is home to Bernie (Tim Wells) and Jacky (Clare Mortimer), a married couple, whose relationship isn’t quite as idyllic as they’d like to think. In fact, Bernie’s rather keen to ship his missus off to her mother’s, so that he can enjoy a weekend tryst with his mistress, Suzy (Jailoshini Naidoo).

To make sure things go smoothly, he’s even arranged for good friend, Rob (Bryan Hiles), to spend the weekend, providing him with the perfect alibi, or so he thinks. Unfortunately, Jacky answers a call meant for Bernie, and when she hears Rob’s on his way, she cancels her visit to her mum. Cue mayhem.

As Bernie desperately tries to prevent Jacky finding out about Suzy, he ropes in Rob to pretend she’s his girlfriend. Unfortunately, the hapless Rob mistakes Suzette (Janna Ramos-Violante), the chef Bernie hired to cook a romantic meal for himself and his mistress, for the latter. Suzette’s a game girl, however, and happily enters into the spirit of things — for a price.

The real Suzy, meanwhile, turns up and discovers she’s now the cook — and Jacky is fuming because she believes her lover, Rob, has been lying about having another woman in his life.

And just when you think things couldn’t get more complicated, they do. Into this muddled ménage steps an unexpected complication — Suzette’s husband, George, played by Nhlakanipho Manqele, who is not pleased his lady love has got herself mixed up in Bernie and Jacky’s marital mess.

Mistaken identity and confusion are what make farce a laugh a minute — and this one has those requirements in spades. What takes this particular production to a different level is Steven Stead’s deft direction and the talents of a superb cast, who manage the intricate plot twists and physical comedy with aplomb.

Ramos-Violante has an absolute ball playing Afrikaans chef Suzette. Her over- the-top antics, performed in an itsy-bitsy mini dress and sky-high heels, had me in hysterics. Wells proves again what a fine actor he is, by turns suave, belligerent and bemused. Mortimer is the perfect foil, bringing great style and subtle wit to the slightly snobbish Jacky.

Hiles pulls off a host of tricky lines as Rob, who finds himself constantly trying to come up with convincing reasons for what’s going on in the lodge, and tribute must be paid to the physical efforts of his on-stage performance, which no doubt left him black and blue. Naidoo is a hoot as the hoity toity mistress, who finds herself clad in an apron and having to cook for her lover and his guests; and Manqele, in his first role for KickstArt, is suitably sinister in the role of George.

Don’t Dress for Dinner is one of the tastiest theatre treats I’ve seen in months, and my advice is to get down to the Elizabeth Sneddon to see it before the run ends.

• Don’t Dress for Dinner runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until Sunday. Show times: tonight to Saturday at 7.30 pm, Saturday at 2.30 pm and Sunday at 5 pm. Tickets are R130 (R100 for students and pensioners) at Computicket.


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