Don't Dress for Dinner
Character Descriptions

BERNARD

A successful, roughly middle-aged, businessman from Paris. He is a conniver, a planner, and a man of very few, if any, scruples. The action for the play takes place in a renovated farmhouse that he bought for his wife. She renovated it, giving him more time to be “alone” in Paris. He is a man of hubris and ego, though he has a sophistication and roguish charm. During his time in Paris, he began an affair with Suzanne, a model whom he has invited to the farmhouse for the weekend. Although he is subject to caricature, he needs to be played straight and broadly.

 

JACQUELINE

Bernard’s wife. She and Bernard have no children, so they only have each other. Whether it be due to boredom, Bernard’s nature, or the lack of satisfaction or excitement in her life, she has her own affair. Like Bernard, she is a planner, calculated and secretive. Potentially a victim, we see that she is every bit the conniver that Bernard is. In their faithlessness to each other, they are the “perfect” match.

 

ROBERT

One of Bernard’s oldest and best friends. They share a lot of history – and they share a woman; Jacqueline is Robert’s mistress. Robert is invited to the farmhouse as Bernard’s alibi. The actor playing Robert needs to have impeccable comedic timing and needs to be expert in the demands of physical comedy. He is of comparable age to Bernard. (As an aside, Marc Camoletti also wrote a play called “Boeing, Boeing”, which features the same Bernard/Robert characters. In the movie version, which changed the story in numerous ways, the “Bernard/Robert” characters were played by Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, respectively.)

 

SUZANNE

Bernard’s mistress – a Parisian model. She is sophisticated, pampered and doesn’t know a refrigerator from a stove. In other words, she doesn’t cook. However, due to a series of mistaken identities, she is forced to do so. Younger than Bernard, her interest in him is based on the fact that he takes her to nice restaurants and buys her nice things.

 

SUZETTE

A Cordon Blue chef who has been hired by Bernard to make a lovely dinner for Suzanne, Bernard and Robert. She is definitely not a model. Much like Robert, the actress playing this role needs to have excellent comedic timing and needs to do physical comedy well. She drives a lot of the humor in the show, as she is mistaken by Robert to be Suzy (Suzanne), Bernard’s mistress. She also needs to play a hilarious drunk.

 

GEORGE

Suzette’s physically imposing husband, who arrives at the house to get Suzette after her job and take her home. Played straight, with the humor coming from his realization that something’s not quite right. He needs to be able to overplay a scene and control it, without overacting.