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A deliciously black satirical comedy about the dinner party from hell.
The fastidious host, Paige, decides to throw a dinner party in honour of her husband, Lars, who is celebrating the success of his pop psychology book, Beyond Belief. She carefully plans a surprise menu that will mark the occasion and anxiously checks with the waiter she has employed to make sure that everything is perfectly prepared. Her lucky guests include a postfeminist vegetarian artist, a distinguished microbiologist, a TV journalist and an uninvited guest who ends up staying for dinner. But it soon becomes apparent that the meal may contain some rather nasty surprises....
Moira Buffini's outrageous comedy Dinner started life in the National Theatre's Loft in 2002 and became her first West End smash. In this production, adapted by the writer for BBC Drama on 3, Harriet Walter returns to the role she created: Paige, the hostess and architect of an evening which her guests will never forget. Two other original leads, Nicholas Farrell and Penny Downie, and four new cast members join her in this viciously black chamber piece about appetite, which will make you think twice about ever accepting another invitation to dinner.
Moira Buffini was nominated for an Olivier Award for Dinner in 2003 and won the Olivier in 2014 for her play Handbagged.
Paige - Harriet Walter
Lars - Nicholas Farrell
Wynne - Penny Downie
Hal - Paul Bazely
Sian - Pippa Bennett-Warner
Mike - Peter McDonald
Waiter - David Hounslow
Produced and directed by Jonquil Panting
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Deliciously dark satire
I love a satire. The darker the better. You can't get much darker than this.
Halfway through I was wondering where it was going as it evoked memories of the movie version of Clue, Titus Andronicus, and Edward Albee!
The real beauty of this piece is the cast, and what a cast it is! Harriet Walter is Paige, our scarlet-clad, posh, silken pit viper of a hostess. Few do insufferable pomposity better than Nicholas Farrell and he is in his element as Lars. Penny Downie is the loathesome, weird-god-help-us Wynne. All the actors are superb in their roles.
While listening to the play, I considered the staging difficulties and was happy not to see it in person. As a carnivore with a strong stomach, I enjoyed it, but those of less intestinal fortitude might have some difficulties if they were to see the various courses served on the stage.
If you like your satires dark, cruel, and wicked, you'll like this piece. If you've ever known a soul-killing narcissist (or a dozen), you might even think you've been present at this dinner party. Bon appetit.