Dinner, Barn Theatre, Southwick: Difficult play tackled by Southwick Players for Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019

The Southwick Players cast for Dinner, their entry for the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019
The Southwick Players cast for Dinner, their entry for the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019

Southwick Players are not ones to shy away from a challenge and Moira Buffini’s Dinner may be one of the biggest the amateur company has taken on.

It is not big in terms of set and scene changes but it needs a strong cast who can cope with a very wordy script and the dark humour involved.

Directed by Harry Atkinson, Dinner was performed at the Barn Theatre in Southwick last week and it is the company’s entry for this year’s Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards.

I watched Thursday’s performance, along with adjudicator Kate Dyson, and everyone agreed it was a very difficult play to handle.

You were either going to love it or hate it and though most left full of praise, I am afraid I fell with the latter. I just did not get it.

That is not to say the cast was not good, they were great and there were times when I did laugh, but I often struggled to hear what was being said.

Kate, who said she had been to many a dinner party of the ilk, suggested the actors try smiling through the snidey remarks, rather than making them obvious, and it would have been interesting to see it done that way.

For me, Louise Yeo gave the stand-out performance, as Sian. It was the way she held herself that worked so well, combined with her delivery.

Jacqueline Harper was excellent, as usual, in the lead role of Paige, keeping her acerbic comments cold and sharp as she laid the path to her shock denouement.

The set was simple but effective, focused on the dinner table, which meant that H Reeves has space to lurk meaningfully as the silent waiter with a secret.

Kate said it was a clever play, hilarious and so dark. I was more inclined to agree with Paige, who repeated continuously throughout the play ‘we need a drink’.