Sharpen your knives for ‘Dinner’ @ Sydney Theatre Company

Production images by Brett Boardman

What setting is best to poke fun at other’s misfortunes? Why, a three course dinner party, of course!

Moira Buffini’s contemporary play, Dinner, is wickedly comedic as it is tragic. Centring around host Paige Janssen, the night is to celebrate her husband’s successful new pop-philosophy book being published, entitled Beyond Belief. Guests include an artist, a scientist, a journalist, a politician who cannot attend, and one uninvited stranger. The party is lead by Paige through a series of strange meals, with conversations turning uncomfortably personal. There seems to be no pleasant way this night can end.

The eccentric hostess Paige is played wonderfully by Caroline Brazier. Drawing in the audience for the evening and leading us through all corners of her house and mind, the unravelling cannot be rewound. Husband and author Lars, Sean O’Shea, exudes opulence and status but is not the star of his own party, outshone by his brash wife. Guests Wynne, Hal, and Siân (artist, scientist, and journalist) compliment their hosts, each personality a mirror to society and a comment on the modern western world. Rebecca Massey is the flighty yet morally firm Wynne. Brandon Burke is the cool rockstar scientist Hal, flippant on most matters. Attending the party with his journalist wife Siân, Claire Lovering, their cold affection towards one another echoes the tone of the night. Aleks Mikić bursts in as the uninvited stranger Mike. Symbolising the class division within the English setting, his mere presence is enough to disturb the perfectly planned party. Silent but deadly, Bruce Spence attends to the guests every need imaginable as the waiter.

Resident Director of Sydney Theatre Company, Imara Savage has cleverly added her own touches to Buffini’s smart script via sound bites, subtle fourth-wall breaks, and surprise on-stage cameos. Each addition is flooded with commentary on the fictional and current world. This is extended with the help of the set, created by designer Elizabeth Gadsby. Pristine ivory covers every surface of the dining room. This stark white opulence is contained within the glass box of the stage. The characters are stifled despite their wealth.

The German word schadenfreude (laughing at other people’s misfortunes) has been aptly used by the Sydney Theatre Company to describe this play. Not only is the audience laughing at the characters, but perhaps the state of the world and it’s absurd nuances.

Satirical comedy Dinner will linger long after blood has been spilled and cleaned up.

The play runs for 1 hour and 40 minutes, no interval.

Dinner is on from the 16th September – 28th October. Wed – Sat 8pm; Mon & Tue 6.30pm; Wed 1pm; Sat 2pm