Has it really been four years since "Boeing-Boeing" was on Broadway? I still remember Mark Rylance and a trio of stewardesses making me laugh till it hurt with the utter silliness of a 1960s French sex farce.
Now comes a sequel by the same author, Marc Camoletti, and what a difference. It's called "Don't Dress for Dinner," and while there’s a few laughs, I’m forgetting it already.
Set in a farmhouse that has been converted into a country estate, "Don’t Dress for Dinner," adapted by Robin Hawdon, certainly doesn't lack for ingenious farce structuring. Married philanderer Bernard, played by Adam James, has invited his mistress, Suzanne, ditsy and voluptuous Jennifer Tilly, to the house for a naughty weekend.
He's also hired a cook, Suzette, Spencer Kayden, last seen in Urinetown, to cater. When Bernard’s friend Robert drops in and Bernard’s wife, smelling an affair, decides to stay, Suzanne and Suzette must impersonate each other – just for starters.
As with Boeing-Boeing, the plot is light as a soufflé and the humor derives from increasingly preposterous lies and mistaken identity. But this time, due to an uneven ensemble, stiff direction, and a too-talky script, the farcical magic never materializes.
Some individual actors do carve out funny moments. As Robert, Ben Daniels becomes amusingly flustered, Tilly is sexily brazen and Kayden wields a dangerous deadpan. But there's too much manic shouting and not enough slapstick fun.
This season we've had an abundance of laugh-out-loud shows: "One Man, Two Guvnors," "Clybourne Park" and "The Lyons." "Don't Dress for Dinner," alas, is not one of them.