The dinner party from hell set-up is an oft-used scene in dramatic productions (see any episode of come dine with me) to varying effects. If done well, this mode can create nail-biting tension and absorbing characters, as seen in Roman Polanski’s “Carnage”, if done badly however and people will simply fall asleep. “Dinner” by Moira Buffini is done well.
Much like “Carnage” (which was originally a play by Yazmina Reza) the action in “Dinner” occurs in just one room with a handful of characters, and furthermore it deals with those towards the upper echelons of the class system. And equally similarly, as carnage does, all descends into chaos.
When the curtains are drawn we are greeted with Paige (Kristina Wilde), the hostess of the party, who is on stage with the constantly chilling and ever-present waiter (Nick James). As we watch the first few rounds of snappy, ‘Wildean’ banter, we begin to understand that the evening is destined to turn peculiar. The sexual tension is rife between most characters in the play, and there is actual tension between Paige and her husband Lars. This role is played quite wonderfully by Theo Lloyd Hughes who completely embodies the stuffy, frustrated, intellectual writer type. The rest of the actors in the production perform gracefully, and skilfully deal with the pace and patter of the dialogue. Yet there lack of experience crept through at times, and a few more years in the theatre will make up for a slight absence of control in the delivery.
A very absorbing watch. For a chamber piece to grip the audience, as it did, and still get laughs even as the 90 minute mark passed is a great feat. Even the muddled and untidy finish was smoothed over by good direction from Michael Segelov, whose aspirations toward the Edinburgh Fringe festival don’t seem too farfetched.