The literary giant W. Somerset Maugham once said, 'At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well, but not too wisely'. Clearly, this advice was ignored by the complicated cast of characters in The Dinner Party who use the many courses of this elegant meal as an opportunity to jostle for control, status and power.
This Expressions Dance Company (EDC) production received stellar reviews when it debuted as The Host in 2015. Since then, it has been reworked, with the relationships between the characters taking on a more nuanced interpretation in the post #metoo era. Contemporary conversations, says artistic director Amy Hollingsworth, mean that 'various character dynamics seem more exposed and some of the relationships take on a different tone when seen through the current lens'.
The Dinner Party's Josephine Weise and Bernhard Knauer (foreground) and Jag Popham (background). Photo by David Kelly.
The Dinner Party opens with a convivial gathering of friends. But rich and influential host (Jake McLarnon) is exposed as an expert manipulator of his guests. Even so, there's no overlooking the fact that his wife (Lizzie Vilmanis) wears the pants in the relationship. The Dinner Party centres around the desire for power, and how individuals seeking status can forget that what they really yearn for is a human connection.
The Dinner Party features costumes by acclaimed Australian fashion designer Gail Sorronda and music recorded by Queensland's Southern Cross Soloists. The Brisbane season runs from 10 to 18 May 2019, after which time it will tour regional Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Hostess Lizzie Vilmanis and host Jake McLarnon. Photo by David Kelly.