Written by Alina Mae Wilson
Huntington Beach High School just kickstarted their year with the hilarious, two act farce Don’t Dress For Dinner. The fact they attempted a work with such expansive dialogue is to their credit, and the fact that every wink and nod enabled the jokes to land without a hitch makes them worthy of acclaim. To put it plainly, the cast from HBHS is terrific.
The story takes place entirely inside a renovated, French farmhouse. We begin by focusing on a seemingly lovely husband and wife named Bernard and Jacqueline. Bernard is trying to send Jacqueline off to visit her mother for the weekend so he can cheat on her and use his best friend Robert as an alibi. Incidentally, Jacqueline is having an affair with Robert. Once she discovers her lover is coming for the weekend, she cancels her trip. If that were not enough, the play throws in a hired cook, a spoiled actress, and a bit of confusion that results in everyone in the show pretending to be something they are not: an uncle, a niece, a mistress, not a mistress, faithful etc. Oh, and the cook is married to an aggressive ruffian. Hopefully that doesn’t backfire.
Because it was a dinner theater performance, the set was built to fit into a small space with a number of tables. It definitely met the script’s requirements of being simple and effective. The entire story takes place in one location –a house that appears to have been built very well. The costumes worked well. It’s supposed to take place sometime in the 1980s, and nothing appeared to be out of place.
The acting was astoundingly professional. Every joke landed, and every bit of physical comedy was performed beautifully without being awkward or overdone. The material itself is fantastic. However, it’s wordy, and there is a ton of dialogue. Frankly, I would have been impressed at witnessing the students delivering their lines consistently. But to have them delivered well —without stumbles, without obvious mishaps, and with appropriate emotion –I loved it! It was as funny as any farce I have ever seen and performed as if by professionals. Personally, I cannot wait to see what Huntington Beach High School comes out with next.
September 15 – 16 2017