Mad Cow signing off in some style from Shropshire's theatre scene

Shropshire-based theatre company Mad Cow Productions is signing off with an 'udder' good play.

Don't Dress For Dinner
Don't Dress For Dinner

After 18 years of hard work, Alex Hinton and Lisa Lowarch are hanging up their props and clip boards with a four day run with the comedy Don't Dress For Dinner.

The first night at Shrewsbury's Theatre Seven on Wednesday was warmly received by the audience, which was surprisingly large given that they are competing against one of the most successful shows ever - Blood Brothers.

Don't Dress for Dinner is a fast-paced sitcom about a couple whose attempts to hide their affairs from each other becomes increasingly complex as one lie inevitably spirals into stories that become more and more ridiculous.

The play opens with lovey-dovey posh bloke Bernard (Ryan Brown) and plum-voiced Jacqueline (Milly Corbett), discussing their plans for the weekend.

She's off to her mum's but he is secretly plotting a few days with his mistress Suzanne (Becky Stafford) and his best man Robert (Joe Phillips).

That's until Bernard mentions that Robert is visiting - and of course Jacqueline and Robert have the hots for each other.

So she cancels her visit to her mum to be around for a bit of under-the-same-roof bedtime canoodling, and the fun starts.

Dastardly Robert has also arranged for a chef to visit and make some top notch nosh for a meal with Suzanne and Robert. The trouble is the chef's name is Suzette (Heidi Brown), which is shortened to Suzy - the same as Suzanne's.

To cover up various lies, sneaky Suzette, played with an appropriately 'Allo 'Allo-style fake French accent uses all her business acumen to ask for payment. She ends the night with a bra stuffed with cash and a 20,000-franc coat.

Suzette's requests for payment then leads Robert to believe that Bernard's mistress is in fact an escort.

Taking on the role of lover, model, and even niece, Heidi was the linchpin of the first night with her ridiculously fake French accent and clunky catwalk strut.

When sexy Suzanne turns up at the house - all hair, boobs and glamour - she agrees to take on the unlikely role of chef from the other Suzy with disastrous dinnertime consequences.

As an audience member you have to suspend belief that none of the characters would pick up on all the clues to piece together the truth.

It's a great romp, and very well rehearsed; the cast obviously know each others timings and I only spotted one obvious mistake in the delivery of the script.

The converted farmhouse set and scenery was expertly designed by Alex Hinton and Niki Holmes - including the nice touch of what looked like the Shropshire Hills through the patio doors, and farm implements on the walls.

The plot comes to a climax when Suzette's loving husband George (Adam Giblin) arrives to take her home. The resulting confrontation sees both Robert and Bernard floored by the angry George.

There's a bit of a moral dimension to the issues: who is right and wrong when both partners are having affairs, but the play doesn't dwell too much on that.

I won't tell you how the issues get resolved - the play's run continues until Saturday night in the Walker theatre and the Mad Cow Productions herd want you to go to see it!

All in all a good, solid way for Alex and Lisa to sign off - which given the restrictions of covid is a terrific achievement.

Wednesday's audience, while there reaction was warm rather than rapturous, gave the cast a good lift off to the run of shows that culminate in what could be an emotional the last ever show on Saturday evening.

For show times and tickets visit Theatre Severn's website here:

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