Chicago Theatre Review

Chicago Theatre Review

The Hooker With a Cooker

May 4, 2015 Reviews Comments Off on The Hooker With a Cooker

Don’t Dress for Dinner – Citadel Theatre

 

Running footsteps, doors slamming, horny men and hot women popping up in compromising costumes, positions and situations—this is the essence of French playwright Marc Camoletti’s hilarious and superbly-directed farce, now playing in Lake Forest. A 2012 Broadway hit, written in 1987 as a sequel to his signature play, “Boeing-Boeing,” this farce continues the convoluted sexual escapades between Bernard, his wife Jacqueline and their best friend Robert.

Now married to Jacqueline, Bernard and his wife are living in a renovated farmhouse outside Paris. When Jacqueline plans a weekend visit to her mother, Bernard secretly arranges for Suzanne, his mistress, to come play house with him while his wife’s away. Bernard’s close friend Robert also drops by to spend the weekend, so Bernard’s hired a cook from the Bon Appetit catering agency to cook for them. Mistaken identities and surprising situations continually develop throughout this hilarious play; and between the laughter and unbelievable reversals, both the actors and the audience are left breathless by the final curtain.

In a welcome return to the Citadel Theatre, talented director Robert D. Estrin adds another credit to his impressive resume. Having guided excellent productions of “Cabaret,” “Other People’s Money” and, especially, an outrageously funny “Lend Me a Tenor,” this undertaking is get-attachment-2.aspx(29)another perfect fit. Estrin has staged his production with just the right amount of camp, slapstick, over-the-top line readings and physical comedy to make Camoletti’s play clip along at breakneck speed. Wisely, Estrin never lets his production slack, seldom giving his audience time to question the logic behind the bizarre events that befall these six quirky characters.

Artistic Director Scott Phelps and Mr. Estrin have done an excellent job casting this show. Each actor creates his own unique character that takes the ball and runs with it. There’s not a weak link among them, and audiences will appreciate the horseplay and buffoonery racing around the tiny Citadel stage. Doug Schuetz and Elizabeth Rude are terrific as Bernard and Jacqueline. Their chemistry is perfect as a couple who cares for each other but have discovered the titillation to be found in extracurricular marital activities. The two actors complement one another in every way.

Guy Wicke is superb as Robert, the play’s more difficult, broadly-written comic role. To Mr. Wickes’ credit, he skillfully walks that fine line between the preposterous and farcical. The actor earns kudos for simply mastering Camoletti’s labyrinthine dialogue, but Wicke also mines get-attachment.aspx(29)so much additional humor from his subtle looks and gestures. Suzette, the frumpy young cook sent by the catering agency, is beautifully played by Hannah Williams. The actress has a comic field day as her character learns each eccentric demand of her made by Bernard and Robert. Watching this shy young lady evolve into a sexy, take-charge mistress of the evening is the highlight of this production, thanks to the engaging, talented and very likable Ms. Williams. Rounding out the cast is Angela Carrington, who has fun portraying Suzanne, Bernard’s mistress. Playing her as a petite, voluptuous and lustily enterprising young lady, Ms. Carrington provides many laughs. Derek Jeck, humorously convincing in the role of George, Suzette’s innocent husband, suddenly finds himself thrust into the middle of a confusing misunderstanding that appears to be some kind of orgy.

Citadel Theatre has another a hit on its hands with this rollicking French sex farce by Marc Camoletti. The production has everything going for it: top-notch direction by Robert D. Estrin, overflowing with perfectly-timed, well-choreographed physical humor and snappy, fast-paced dialogue; hilarious, energetic performances by a talented cast; a lovely, workable set, designed by Tianyu Qiu and appropriately sexy costumes by Janice Gemp. For a side-splitting evening of comedy, offering escape entertainment and nonstop laughter, Citadel’s season finale serves up a delectably satisfying Happy Meal of adult humor.

Highly Recommended

Reviewed by Colin Douglas

Presented April 24-May 24 by Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, IL.

Tickets are available by calling 847-735-8554 or by going to www.citadeltheatre.org.

Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.


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