by Joseph Michael Mishler
What happens when a husband discovers his wife is having an affair? Revenge and payback immediately come to mind. Ding Dong is all about getting even and more. Bernard tricks his wife’s lover to his home. Once the trap is sprung, the fun begins. Playwright Marc Camoletti does not disappoint.
Camoletti also wrote the comedy Boeing…Boeing which Meadow Brook produced last season. Ding Dong was translated by Tudor Gates.
Set in France, Ding Dong takes place in a hip Paris apartment. Christopher Howe plays Bernard, the aggrieved husband, and Steve Blackwood is Robert, the cheater. They are a well matched team and complete opposites. The interplay between them left the audiences rolling with laughter.
Ding Dong is a funny, fast moving play. The audience hardly has a chance to catch their breath before something else happens. Bernard traps the hapless Robert. He agrees to bring his wife over for dinner to allow her, out of vengeance, to be seduced by Bernard. Instead, he brings a Russian call girl named Barbara (Janet Caine) in place of his wife. Caine’s character plays her part so well that Bernard has no chance of avoiding her charms. Bernard’s wife, Jacqueline (Julianne Summers) discovers that her lover, Robert, is a dinner guest.
Ruth Crawford plays the maid who tries to keep things together, but only adds to the chaos and confusion throughout the play. Her attempts to keep the couples straight and serve dinner prove to be quite futile. The playwright could have made her role stronger.
In the midst of this convoluted dinner party Robert’s wife, Juliette, played by MaryJo Cuppone, arrives. Bernard convinces her to disguise herself so they can trap Robert. Surprisingly the ploy works.
Other than a few minor blocking issues late in the play, it all flows smoothly from start to finish. Some of the action behind the couch between Bernard and Juliette would have had more impact had they been downstage.
At the end of the play the players are still cheating and conniving against each other, but otherwise having a great time doing it. The dance by the cast at the end of the play was a great ending. The audience rewarded the cast with a standing ovation.
The set was tastefully decorated, and very actor and audience friendly. The 1970s music was in French and at times the audience sang along. Meadow Brook Theatre is an ideal venue for theatre. Meadow Book’s director Travis N. Walter is a dynamic leader and director.
Everything about the play worked extremely well. This is professional theatre and they gave a very strong performance.
Ding Dong runs through April 10, 2011.
Joseph Michael Mishler is the producer and director at Blue Heron Theatre in Holly, MI