Originally titled Sexe et Jalousie, French painter and writer Marc Camoletti’s play is about sex and food – and you can’t get more French than that! This English version by Tudor Gates is full of complicated, tongue-twisting dialogue and, this early in the run, the few tiny slips can be easily forgiven and forgotten.
As a sequel to the hugely successful Don’t Dress for Dinner, there are a few discrepancies. There’s the same list of characters, but this time their abode is a chic Duplex apartment in Paris (a superbly elegant set designed by Alan Miller Bunford) and, while wife Jacqueline (Sabina Franklyn) is still having an affair with Robert, husband Bernard (David Callister) is totally innocent - so far!
Having discovered his wife’s infidelity, Bernard is determined to punish Robert. He gives him a choice: either his murder will be arranged, or he must bring his own wife Juliette (Britt Ekland) to be seduced in turn. Tit for tat, so to speak – to which Robert agrees. But he cheats and hires a high-class call girl Barbara (Malandra Burrows) to stand in for his wife.
To be successful, farce has to be performed with split-second timing and at high speed, giving the audience the minimum of time to think and dissect, and Ian Dickens’ slick and fast production certainly succeeds. The only time it degenerates into ‘silliness’ is when Robert (Giles Watling, playing this character once more) discovers that his real wife has arrived and he crawls around the floor before ending up with a cushion over his head. The rest of the audience laughed their socks off, so this is evidently a personal aversion!
Nothing, of course, goes according to plan. It seems that Bernard, in spite of his earlier arrangement, does not really want to be unfaithful to his wife, but all the female members of the cast successively throw themselves at him in enthusiastic desire. I don’t blame them – I could fancy him myself! Even the maid, sardonic and sassy Marie-Louise (in a fabulously comic performance by Anita Graham), can’t resist him.
Just Desserts is a fast and furious frolic – and thoroughly enjoyable.
- Sheila Ann Connor (reviewed at the Capitol Theatre, Horsham)