Reviewed by David Smith
Moira Buffini’s Dinner is a sizzler of a show and The Rep certainly does it justice. Director Dave Simms provides a fluent and tight interpretation of this often hilarious yet ultimately disturbing piece. His direction increasingly reveals the shallowness and falseness of the main characters and their destructive relationships.
The whole ensemble manages the clever dialogue with close attention to both meaning and timing. They use the broad Arts Theatre stage to good effect, and work well at and around the stylish large dining table.
Helen Geoffreys, as the central controlling character Paige, skilfully develops her own role while leading the play’s action from the lighter first Act into the darker, more surreal, territory of Act 2. She has the most cutting of the comic lines, and uses them to devastate her husband and the dinner guests at every opportunity.
She works well with Peter Davies as Lars in whose honour the bizarre dinner has been planned. He is convincing as the unfaithful husband and successful author of a pop-psychological self-help book. Nicole Rutty is a delight as Wynne, a scatty artist in thrall to Lars. She has some wonderfully funny, incongruous lines and times them perfectly.
Alan Fitzpatrick is impressive as the uninvited, often incredulous, guest, Mike, while Steve Marvanek and Olivia Eblen are well matched as the newly-married but troubled Hal and Sian. Geoff Dawes is the enigmatic butler whose significance builds, as does the tension, towards the play’s end.
It is a well-wrought production with high dramatic and comic standards.