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March 3, 2010 > Theatre Preview: Douglas Morrisson hosts delectable dinner

Theatre Preview: Douglas Morrisson hosts delectable dinner

By Julie Grabowski

Bernard is eagerly anticipating an intimate birthday celebration with his mistress in his renovated farmhouse outside of Paris. With his wife Jacqueline on her way to visit her mother for the weekend, a Cordon Bleu cook scheduled to prepare the dinner, and his best friend Robert unwittingly invited to provide an alibi, everything looks to be in order. But things quickly begin to unravel, and Bernard and his guests become tangled in an improvisational game where identities and explanations become more convoluted and exhausting in order to preserve their secrets.

Marc Camolett's "Don't Dress for Dinner" originally played in Paris for over two years under the name "Pyjamas pour Six" before Robin Hawdon translated and adapted the farce to English in 1991. In its new form the play entertained London audiences for seven years, and now Douglas Morrisson Theatre brings the enduring hilarity to Hayward to win over the Americans.

Director Michael Ryken delivers well-oiled confusion, making full use of George Ledo's marvelous set and the zany material with a fully committed and thoroughly engaging cast. Michael Sally and Julia Etzel are outstanding both individually and together, and easily steal the show. Sally's frazzled and fumbling Robert is endearing and captivating, while Etzel's good natured, Franc extorting cook Suzette is sheer perfection and joy. The pair's hilarious drunken tango that launches the second act is one of the best spots of the evening.

Craig Eychner is enjoyable as the scheming Bernard, though is at times a little too bouncy and can be overshadowed by his cast mates. Bobbi Fagone's performance as Jacqueline is a wonderfully fun and dexterous swing between dignified wife and eager lover, deceiver and deceived, rage and control. Laura Morgan adds heat as Bernard's model/actor mistress Suzanne, and Jeff Zolfarelli is a delightful late addition to the second act as Suzette's tough, violence prone "outsized husband" George.

While cheating spouses, false friends, lies and wild deception typically don't fall into the comedic story category, when told with brandished ice tongs and fire poker, seltzer bottle, jumbled identities, a piggery, pajamas, makeovers, and drunken dancing there's not much to do but laugh. "Don't Dress for Dinner" is an evening of fast-talking frantic fun, capable of filling any need one might have for a large helping of absurdity.

This production contains mature subject matter and is not suitable for children. Adult tickets cost $24, seniors 60 and over are $22, and students 18 and over with ID are $15. Box office hours are 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and one hour before show time. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (510) 881-6777 or visit

Don't Dress for Dinner
February 26-March 21
Thursday-Saturday 8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third Street, Hayward
(510) 881-6777

Tickets: $15-$24

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