My mother used to love to say, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we set about to deceive.”
Actually, it’s a lesson I learned early on. When I was seven, I had two things that were really important to me. The first was my best friend, Mary Ann. (She still is my best pal and it’s 59 year later, though I probably should not publicly reveal our ages!)
The second was my Madame Alexander doll. She was really beautiful. She was also very expensive, as my mother constantly reminded me. As I was an impressionable young lady and somewhat of a TV hound, I was heavily swayed by commercials catering to the needs of little people like myself. One hot item was the beauty parlor doll whose hair could be cut, styled, and would keep coming back. Can you imagine what happened? Mary Ann was over playing and I cut the doll’s hair, forgetting her price tag and forgetting that the coveted doll in the TV ad was not a Madame Alexander. Instantly, I knew that hair would not be returning and I was in deep, deep trouble.
Shortly thereafter when Mary Ann went home, I shamefacedly confessed that the doll’s hair had been cut. The expression on my mother’s face led me to further confess that Mary Ann had done it. Of course, she hadn’t. I had.
What followed was 20 years of my mother ridiculing and blaming my best friend for what I had done. Irony of ironies, she refused to believe me when I repeatedly tried to tell her the truth. So, my tangled web presented itself at an early age and the lesson stuck with me. I never lied to my parents again.
It’s certainly a lesson that the characters in “Don’t Dress for Dinner” by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Robin Hawdon should have learned. This fast-paced farce opens Thursday, April 20 at Workshop Players Theater on Middle Ridge Road — and though there are no Madame Alexander dolls included, there are plenty of tangled webs.
Bernard kicks it all off by planning a weekend tryst with his mistress, a model, while his wife is away visiting her mother. To provide some possible cover, he also invites his best friend Robert, who unbeknownst to Bernard is having an affair with Jacqueline, who just happens to be Bernard’s wife. When Jacquelin discovers that Robert is coming for the weekend, she adds to the web of deceit by announcing that her mother has the flu and that she will be staying. This necessitates some fast thinking and Bernard decides that Robert should pretend that the model is his mistress, which clearly Robert is opposed to. The plot thickens when the cordon bleu chef Bernard has hired for the evening arrives and Robert mistakenly thinks that she is the mistress. He reluctantly claims her to help cover for his pal, all while trying to underplay it for his own paramour. Needless to say, when the real mistress model appears and is told she is now the cook, things get even stickier.
I can only imagine what my mother would have said to these people as they sink further and further into their tangled web.
Honestly, it’s great fun what we do. Theater people work so hard to make it look easy for our audiences and we love every minute of the designing of sets, lights, costumes, properties, and the learning of lines, establishing blocking, and creating connections among characters all to make it click. It takes weeks of preparation, repetition, conversation, and hours of hammering, painting, and decorating — all so that on opening night it will all look like we are doing it for the “first time.”
At Workshop Players, we invite people in to sit and watch us unfold stories only inches away from the action in what was once a one-room school house. In this case, we have converted our unique, intimate space into a renovated farm building good for weekend retreats. Bedrooms are a former cowshed, a piggery, and a hay loft. The dining room is in the hen house. Actors will become real people for our audiences as they dig themselves into lie after lie after lie, and all along the way the audience will know the truths that the characters are doing their best to cover. It’s farce at its best!
It’s fast. It’s furious. It’s fun. It’s also right around the corner or right down the road.
Northwest Bank stepped up this time to support local theater and provide grand entertainment just waiting for you. Did I mention that I direct it?
The show runs for nine performances: April 20,21, 28, 29, and May 5 and 6 at 8 p.m.; and April 30 and May 7 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 with group rates available. Call 440-988-5613 for tickets.
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.