Enjoy an 'interesting feast' at Dinner in Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 12:43 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:48 25 March 2019
Emily Perry reviews Moira Buffini's Dinner at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City.
Last night I went to Dinner at The Barn Theatre and what an interesting feast it was!
The entire play is based around a dinner table, perhaps as expected, but the real food is the conversation pieces served up by the hostess – murder, suicide and truth are not the usual dinner party topics.
This really is a clever text, that not only shines a penetrating light on the self-serving bunch, but also exposes some of their human frailties.
So well, in fact, that I began to feel some sympathy for them. Not for long though!
The hostess, fabulously elegant Paige (Sarah Lodge), has an agenda and an axe to grind, which is subtly revealed quite early on in the action.
Using her husband Lars’ (Paul Russell) recent book release as a reason to host an elaborate dinner party, she pulls out all the stops, even employing a waiter (Andy Hill).
It’s when we see her handing him a wad of cash that we realise there might be some surprises on the menu.
Her guests are Wynne (Hazel Halliday), who is an ex and current lover to Lars, couple friends Hal and Sian (Carl Westmoreland and Stephanie Cotter).
They’re joined by Mike (Tallan Cameron), who has crashed his van in the fog and, wanting to use the phone, ends up staying for dinner.
He probably wished he hadn’t.
They’re served ‘Primordial Soup’ and ‘Apocalypse of Lobster’ along with acid one-liners from Paige, who saves the best of them for Lars.
There are party games,that turn nasty and personal.
And there’s a terrific denouement when the waiter turns out to be not what he seems.
Director Jon Brown has put together a strong ensemble cast who bring energy and fluidity to this, the darkest of Moira Buffini’s plays.
You’ll be laughing helplessly one minute and jumping with shock in the next.
The script has a few twists and turns and while I don’t want to give too much away and risk spoiling your viewing experience, I will say that structurally the first half is fairly short.
We’re introduced to the characters and we think we know them, until, in an eventful and shocking second half, we’re forced to think again.
There’s a great set from the creative team, which is what I’ve come to expect from this delightful venue.
With the focus on the dining table throughout, and no distracting set changes, you’re free to focus on the dialogue, which comes fast and witty.
So, another classy, contemporary play from the Barn Theatre in Clive Weatherley’s first season as artistic director.
I really don’t think you will be disappointed if you join them for dinner and if you are not enamoured by the food menu, there are always more drinks in the bar!
• Dinner can be seen at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, March 30, with performances at 8pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Tickets cost £13 and are available from www.barntheatre.co.uk or call the Barn box office on 01707 324300.