Theatre review: How to Host a Dinner Party, Brighton Fringe
The Sussex company Park Bench Dance Theatre’s show opens with two barefoot, smartly dressed women shuffling on to a empty stage with a dining table. They disappear again and return with some chairs. A long and wordless tussle ensues in which identical dining chairs are shifted and swapped, shunted and dragged, and swapped and shifted again.
The stress of home entertaining has sustained all manner of dramas, from big screen efforts Abigail’s Party and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? to Neil Simon’s one-act play about marriage and divorce, The Dinner Party.
This year’s Fringe festival has already hosted the triple-bill Table Manners in which assorted performers push the boundaries of what is acceptable during a three-course dinner. Within this overworked and frequently overwrought setting, there needs to be real human drama, an abundance of ideas, perhaps even a hint of subversion. Sadly, How to Host a Dinner Party comes up short on all counts.
Following the passive-aggressive shunting of chairs, our protagonists – played by Rosanna Tat and Cornelia Turner-Klier, who also choreograph the show - set about putting the finishing touches to their outfits. As make-up is applied, necklaces clasped and shoes chosen, both glance nervously towards the door. Why are their guests late? Have they been stood up? Why is it, I found myself thinking, that in the land of fiction no one thinks to pick up the phone?
Gradually we hear the sound of human voices, the tinkling of glasses and – in the hosts’ imagination – a dinner party in full swing. The soundtrack gets louder as the women envision themselves deep in conversation, rapt in the sparkling company and, in a flight of fantasy half-inched from the film The Artist, encased in the arms of a man. Then all is quiet again, their hopefulness burst like a balloon.
The show is described on the programme as “minimalist dance work.” The emphasis here is certainly on minimalist. While there is a tension in the flashes of antagonism, and playfulness in the synchronised movements that teeter on the edge of slapstick, these moments are too fleeting to really engage (the whole show is done and dusted in 25 minutes). As a whole the piece looks like a sketch for something more substantial. There is the outline of an idea here but, as it stands, How to Host a Dinner Party brings nothing new to the table.
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Jeremy Clarkson to host BBC's Have I Got News For You despite Top Gear exit
James Bond Spectre trailer drops on YouTube
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
A historian gave the most British look of despair when someone screwed up Richard III's birthday at his reburial
Kay Burley 'bias' against Ed Miliband prompts 130 complaints to Ofcom
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'