Review: Dinner

Dinner Adelaide Rep rehearsal photoPresented by The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Society
Reviewed Thursday 18th April 2013

The Rep are presenting Dinner – a black comedy, written in 2002 by Moira Buffini. The play revolves around renowned society hostess Paige, who is bringing together a carefully selected group of friends for a very special celebratory meal, prepared to honour the literary success of her husband, Lars.

Lars has written a book that purports to give everybody the tools to lead a happy life and the dinner party is ostensibly to mark the occasion of its publication. There is frustration from Paige when one of the guests Wynne (who has her eyes on Lars) arrives without her husband. Two more guests Hal and his wife, Siân, complete the party. Hal might well be envied by casual observers for having such a trophy wife but their marriage is far from happy.

Paige’s highly unusual menu is designed to stir emotions and generate conflict. The last straw, is the unexpected arrival of Mike, a young man whose van has crashed, due to the fog, and who wishes to use the telephone.

And then there is the strong, silent, emotionless, nameless waiter, who responds only to orders given by Paige.

This is a nicely stylish piece, directed by Dave Simms, who makes good use of the wickedly witty script. However, the performance on opening night had occasional problems which I’m sure will be worked out as the season continues.

Helen Geoffreys and Peter Davies, as Paige and Lars, generate very believable characters, making their politely vitriolic exchanges so much more effective. As she attempts to debunk his new philosophy expressed in his book, Nicole Rutty, as Wynne gushes over his brilliance. Rutty gives humorous life to the vegetarian hippy within Wynne’s character.

Steve Marvanek and Olivia Eblen play Hal and Siân beautifully. Portraying their disappointment in their choice of partners, he finds that she has little to offer but her looks, and she realises his ineffectuality. They create a superb mutual bitterness, spitting venom with their lines.

Alan Fitzpatrick gives an excellent performance as Mike, the antithesis of the upper middle class group and catalyst for much of their internal conflicts, presenting a powerful and complex characterisation. Geoff Dawes is imposing as the waiter, needing no dialogue to make an impact.

There are plenty of laughs to be had in this clever production.

WARNING: contains strong language

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide

Adelaide Repertory Theatre Society web site

Venue: ARTS Theatre, 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: to Saturday 27th April 2013
Duration: 2hrs 10min incl. intvl.
Tickets: $12 to $22
Bookings: Box office 8212 5777 or here

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