Don't Dress For Dinner

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Sewell Barn, Norwich


> Sewell Barn, Norwich

On the day Parisians were celebrating the fall of the Bastille, the Sewell Barn Company saluted our Gallic neighbours with a French farce.

Saucy rather than sexy, witty and never earthy, it moved with the speed of traffic around the Arc de Triomphe. Look, no brakes!

Rob Morris is the director of this high-octane production of Marc Camoletti's play in a clever, light- hearted adaptation by Robert Hawdon. Listen carefully, and the reward is a lot of incidental humour. The secret show, though, lies in the plot.

Wife is going off for a weekend away; hubby, who is to stay at home, plans something a bit more exciting, and then somehow it all falls apart in a Spaghetti Junction of double crossings.

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The characters go round in circles, just avoiding collisions, getting hot under the collar even though they strip down to barer and barer essentials.

The French - the people who take pride in clarity and logic - are forever pausing to sort out the situation. What drives them mad is discovering that nothing will quite stay on track. Every gleam of light shows that the characters are about to accelerate down another blind alley.

On a single set, the place from which there is no real escape, Sally Dixon keeps up the style of the well-described mistress of the house. Mark Miller-Robshaw is her all-too-easily distraught husband, and Asa Cannell finds playing her lover is a more demanding role than he ever imagined.

Enter Gemma Morris and Elena Hewett, both younger go-getters who have a lot to offer and know how to play their hands so they can get what they are after. As if that were not enough, John Dixon arrives to put his oar in at the end of a jolly evening.

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