A frothy farce about the biggest dingdongs in Paris, almost everyone spends the majority of The Dingdong in their underpants. However, while this play is filled with plenty of in-your-endos it is not talking about who is carrying the biggest package, but is instead about the insane behavior surrounding infidelity. Brilliantly translated by actor Mark Shanahan (39 Steps) from George Feydeau’s original French text Le Dindon from 1896. We are taken on a slapstick journey where we get to laugh at multiple couples as they bumble their way in and out of bed with each other.
The story starts with poor demure Lucy, played by the quietly charming Rachel Botchan, being chased into her own home by an overzealous ladies’ man (Bradford Cover) who will not take no for an answer. When the lothario finds out that the only way his noble ladylove would ever sleep with another man is in revenge for her husband’s infidelity, he seizes the opportunity to prove that her husband is also a philanderer. He invites her to go undercover and see the proof for herself; hilarity ensues and everything that could possibly go wrong does.
Throughout the show the five actors play a total of 13 characters. The beautiful Kelley Curran’s performance was a standout. Her mastery over four very different characters, each with a different accent and costume change, brings a vivacious energy to the production. Cover also plays as many roles and has people laughing at his outrageous physicality. Brad Beberlee is a hilarious first choice love interest for the women of the show with his sensitivity and outrageous moustaches. Chris Mixon is a very believable naïve dingdong just trying his best to cover his mistakes. Your heart goes out to his well-natured failures.
I went in expecting a fun farce and The Pearl delivered. The Dingdong is true to form and well executed. Technically this show does everything right; the blocking is great, the pacing on point. Applause to the director Hal Brooks. However, even though the show hits its mark, it lacks the danger and emotional stakes that would made it thrilling. But don’t worry… the brilliance of the text, snazzy costume changes, and slapstick humor makes The Dingdong a lovely night out. The set by Sandra Goldmark is traditionally elegant, simple and flexible; and the flurry of lingerie and suits was well-designed by Amy Clark. I can only imagine the quick changes back stage!
If you are up for a night of traditional fun and frothy theatre then this is the night for you. There is a nostalgia to this kind of production that is pleasant and wonderful to witness. If you go in expecting more of a merengue than a dense chocolate mouse, your sweet tooth and your funny bone will be satisfied.
- Mark Shanahan’s adaptation of George Feydeau’s Le Dindon
- Director: Hal Brooks
- Cast includes: Rachel Botchan, Bradford Cover, Chris Mixon, Brad Heberlee, and Kelley Curran
- The Pearl Theatre, New York
- Until 15 May 2016
- Review by Laura Vogels
- 20 April 2016