The dictionary describes farce “as light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect”.  There can be no denial that this production of Don’t Dress for Dinner fits that bill perfectly.  Set in a country house – a short train journey from Paris – this is French farce at its best – and not a phoney French accent within hearing!  Written by French playwright Marc Camoletti (best known for his smash hit Boeing-Boeing), Don’t Dress for Dinner (adapted by Robin Hawdon) first opened in London in 1991 and twenty-five years on proved to be an excellent choice for one of Chris Jordan’s summer productions for Eastbourne Theatres.

All comedy – and farce in particular – relies on perfect timing and even on this first night the cast had it off to a tee.  Within moments, the audience were not only drawn into the web of multiple duplicity unfolding before them but, with no fewer than two pantomime dames (Ben Roddy and Damian Williams) on stage, they were totally hooked! Laughter abounded throughout the auditorium as the plot romped on stage with frequent asides and improvisation.

It was not surprising that, despite the very hot evening, the theatre bar was full to capacity as the Friends gathered to welcome Chris, the talented six strong cast and some of the company for a well-earned drink.

Front (l-r): Janine Mellor (and Chips), Polly Lister, Stephen Oswald Back: Tracey Penn, Ben Roddy, Damian Williams

Front (l-r): Janine Mellor (and Chips), Polly Lister, Stephen Oswald
Back: Tracey Penn, Ben Roddy, Damian Williams

For many it was a first-time experience in Eastbourne – although for Ben Roddy he had practically taken up residence here this season, prompting Chris to remark that he would definitely not be in the next show!  Shame – we love having you around, Ben!

It was a particular delight to welcome Janine Mellor’s dog, Chips – who stole the show in the bar!