The curtain rises at the Teatro dei Differenti to reveal a lush, private dining chamber in a stylish Parisian restaurant. A table adorned with fine crystal and elegant china sits ready for its six guests.
Enter Claude Pichon, antique bookseller, donning a crisp double-breasted tuxedo with an indisputable air of savior faire. A second guest arrives, the ungainly Albert Donay, a rental-car trafficker with a penchant for creating abstract paintings of used automobiles. Albert and Claude engage in a barbed repartee, pondering what odd circumstances might have brought these seemingly unconnected guests together.
They are soon joined by a third gentleman, André Bouville, an accomplished fashion entrepreneur with an imperious disdain for just about everything and everybody. The single thread binding this disparate trio is the lawyer who handled their divorces. Such is the set-up for the farcical romance, THE DINNER PARTY, the latest offering from the incomparable Neil Simon.
The first of the ex-wives club to arrive is the vivacious Mariette Levieux. A stylish woman, we initially take her to be an old acquaintances of André’s and quite pleased to remain as such. Only moments later do we discover that she and Claude were once bride and groom, but their marriage had withered in direct proportion to the flowering of Mariette’s writing career.
Next, the mousy Yvonne Fouchet bursts onto the scene and reveals that she is the twice-married/twice-divorced wife of the nebbishy Albert. With the dramatic arrival of Gabrielle Buonocelli , the feuding begins full swing as we discover the raison d’être of this colorful mélange.
This is The Dinner Party by perhaps, America’s most prolific living playwright, Neil Simon in which he sets out to explore the follies of love with all its brittle nuances. And, though he raises some rather complex issues, the full cerebral exploration comes up a bit short. But, it’s light romantic comedy and biting dialogue that we’ve come to expect from Neil Simon and, in this case, that’s precisely what he delivers. “You were never this materialistic when we were married,” snipes Mariette at her befuddled ex-spouse. “Of course not, I still had my material.”
Giuseppe Pambieri, Giancarlo Zanetti, Lia Tanzi, Michele De’ Marchi, Maria Letizia Gorga and Simona Celi. Regia: Giovanni Lombardo Radice