I was fairly excited to see the Moira Buffini play Dinner at the State Theatre, for what should be fairly obvious reasons. I was promised live lobsters, death and betrayal. A dinner party to die for. Now, I’m not saying that this performance didn’t deliver – just that it didn’t fully reach its own potential. I didn’t like it. But I didn’t like it for reasons isolated from the performance itself. The problem wasn’t so much with the cast and direction, as with Buffini’s entire script.
The set design was fairly impressive, with wall-to-floor perspex window, dry-ice and a revolving ‘dinner’ platform that boasted a huge perspex dining set. And as always, Kate Cherry’s stage direction was effective. But the dialogue was so weak that I found myself laughing more at its (unintentional) awkwardness than anything else. It also seemed to be ironically over acted, but the comedic elements were too prescribed to be funny. The production did pick-up in the latter half of the show, the conflict adding much needed substance to the overall performance. However, though the twist at the play’s climax was relatively surprising, for me it did no more than create a tidy resolution for the plot’s inconsistencies in the first place.
The performances were (for the most-part) commendable. Rebecca Davis (Sian), Stuart Halusz (Mike) and Alison van Reeken (Wynne) were particularly vivacious, while Tasma Walton (Paige) dominated the stage. Van Reeken’s delivery of the fabulous line “The cunt is an orchid! NOT a profanity!” was particularly memorable.
Highlight: The set design. I’d never seen so much perspex on one stage before, and it was magnificent.
Lowlight: The genre. This was not revenge comedy. This was revenge discombobulated.