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Article by Mike Narouei
The second I stepped into the Jack Hylton I knew that I was in good hands. Emma Turner once again has designed a brilliant set. The group performed the play in the round, with a rotating stage that has a dinner table placed upon it. Every detail was meticulously thought out; even the offstage had a stagehand dressed in a chef’s costume to keep the realism of the world. Detail brings a show to a professional level, and professional is the best way to describe the set.
With the action of the play in full swing, one can easily find themselves entertained. The audience never had a dull moment when watching dinner with everyone in fits of laughter throughout. I commend the directors Naomi Chidambaram and Jacqui Clark in being able to bring great depth to all the characters and devising blocking that was always imaginative. One thing that needs developing though is rhythm. Dialogue and actions at times seemed to be on an improvised tempo which was jarring at times and didn’t allow the writing to have its full comedic potential.
The performances themselves were for the most part outstanding. The degree of complexity with the acting was exciting to watch. The performers always kept their comic timing and had us in the palm of their hands. However, there were some inconsistencies in performance style. While all the performers were playing a heightened realism; some performers would fall into caricature in the aim of getting laughter. Every time this happened audience members would fall out of the realism the production had created to be distracted by the overtop and, at times, overplayed delivery of lines. Even when this happened, it was still funny, though the directors need to be wary that this can be a deterrent to the immersion of a piece.
Mattie Léfevre was brilliant. She managed to completely control the space and never had a moment where she wasn’t invested in her role. Furthermore, her ability to bring a great range to what may seem a very restricted character is incredible. The star of the show however for me has to be the waiter played by Lewis Pugh. Without a single line for most of the play, Lewis managed to keep us entranced throughout through physicality alone. In the final scene, he showed without a doubt the best acting I have seen in any LUTG Production. A worthy mention is also Paige Middleton and Ciara Hay who both played their roles skillfully.
To conclude Dinner is one of the best shows I’ve seen while in Lancaster and every member of the cast and production team should be proud of the work they put in.