A wonderfully, fast-moving play oozing with quality from every angle.
Wealthy capitalist and father-soon-to-be Vincent (Nigel Harman) and his expectant partner Anna (Olivia Poulet) are invited to dinner by Elizabeth and Peter. Enthusiastic school-teacher Elizabeth (Sarah Hadland) has lovingly prepared a meal for the guests. University Professor, Peter (Jamie Glover), has selected fine wines. And their children are asleep upstairs. All is well and the night is young. They are joined by Elizabeth’s best friend, single trombonist Carl (Raymond Coulthard).
Elizabeth is preparing the starters – but the conversation starts to get heated when Vincent reveals the first name he and Anna have chosen for their unborn son. The association of this particular name leads to a general scrutiny of the meaning of names and, in turn, the evaluation of the significance of names, with liberal Peter making clear his disapproval to Vincent. This leads to Elizabeth and Peter’s children’s names being ridiculed and the evening soon becomes a soiree of insults and accusations in which Vincent is confirmed as selfish and Peter as stingy.
The action reaches boiling point when Carl, who discovers that his friends have previously likened him to a piece of fruit, revs the tone of the evening up another notch by confessing to a long-term secret affair. This threatens the friends’ trust in one another and buried resentments are unearthed as the perfectly planned dinner party goes awfully and hilariously pear-shaped.
With impeccable comedy timing and a truly excellent cast, this laugh-out-loud play surprises the audience time and time again. The stunning set design certainly deserves a standing ovation.
Contains strong language. Runs to 11 February 2017 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
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