Dinner For One
Endearing skit pales in comparison to legendary film version
This article is from 2010.
For the uninitiated, a little background is required here: an 18-minute film made in 1963 is one of the most frequently repeated television broadcasts of all time, shown every New Year’s Eve across German TV channels, and to many in that great country one of those things inaccurately assumed to be quintessentially and ubiquitously English, like Beefeaters and awful food.
Dinner for One features Miss Sophie, an old lady with a glint in her eye, and her butler James, whose job it is to serve her at her annual birthday dinner and charge the glasses of her gentleman callers. As all four are now long dead, it is also James’ duty to empty those glasses and impersonate this culturally diverse band of admirers.
The film of Dinner for One is a phenomenon, and as such this stage version cannot but court (sadly unfavourable) comparison with it. Chris Cresswell starts out nicely as the doddery but precise James, but his depiction of the butler’s multiplying degrees of inebriation simply cannot match Freddie Frinton’s uproarious physical comedy. It’s a fun quarter-hour, but you may be better off saving a fiver and visiting YouTube instead.
Hill Street Theatre, 226 6522, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 1.50pm & 2.30pm, £5 (£4).