Review by Paul Nelson
AFTER the drab time the West End has gone through these 30 or
so years with depressing shows celebrating pop stars and endless
revivals, I never thought I would be able to file the following.
Wit and style has returned with a vengeance. I am talking about
the likes of an Eliot, a Fry, and a Coward. All three are wrapped
up in one of the most chic productions London has not been allowed
to see for ages.
I am talking about Dinner at Wyndhams Theatre.
This opportunity to watch a private party, during which the guests
let their hair down and the hostess cleans almost everybody, is
riveting stuff. You will also laugh until you ache.
It ill behoves me to blow the plot, but the upshot of this dreadfully
destructive evening is one of such delight, so much comedy, so
many truths rammed down your throat and ultimately so incredible
entertainment that I can hardly contain my cheers.
The dinner, to which we are invited, like flies on the wall,
is provided by Harriet Walter. Her guests are, to a man, disgusting.
She knows that and makes certain that you know it well before
The play is so carefully plotted, there is even the uninvited
guest who rips through the silks and satins and ultimately gains
your complete confidence. He has rushed in after failing to break
in to the house next door.
When I add to all this, that the cast are all absolutely brilliant,
I hope you will want to see it. I want to see it again.
The dinner menu is horrifying, the guests are from hell, the
hostess a manipulator you could slaughter.
However, the entire evening, only 90 minutes long with no interval,
takes, it seems, less time to digest than an ice cream and it
This play is so magnificent that I expect it to run for about
a week, the London audiences being what they are.
What I would love to see is that it runs for five years, at least,
with intelligent people savouring and gloating over the fact that
at last, once more, they have been given an evening of joy and
thought. It is the most stunning evening I have seen in ages.
Not one member of the cast fails to hit the target, not one line
in the play fails to score, and the ending is unspeakably brilliant.
You have to see it to believe it.
Dinner by Moira Buffini. Directed by Fiona Buffini, Designer
Rachel Blues, Lighting Mark Henderson, Sound Rich Walsh. WITH:
Harriet Walter (Paige, the hostess), Nicholas Farrell (Lars, a
writer), Penny Downie (Wynne, an artist), Adrian Lukis (Hal, a
scientist), Flora Montgomery (Sian, a sexpot), Paul Kaye (Mike,
an uninvited guest), Paul Sirr (The Waiter). Presented by Michael
Codron, Lee Dean and J & C Nederlander at Wyndhams' Theatre.
Charing Cross Road, London WC2. Tickets 020 7369 1736.