THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, Drury Lane Oakbrook. Part of what makes this production of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s rollicking farce such fun is director Ray Frewen’s masterful pacing: he exploits every comic opportunity, whether for broad humor, satire, impersonations, or wry wit. In a show with more than 30 characters, each actor gets a chance to bask in well-deserved laughter.
Writer Sheridan Whiteside–a meddlesome, self-absorbed man who believes himself to be kind and courteous–is under doctor’s orders to rest in a wheelchair and must bide his time in the living room of a well-to-do family in small-town Ohio. Although unfortunately I arrived late, I did see Craig Spidle’s memorable entrance as Whiteside, bored with the flurry of excitement that greets him, responding with the completely unimpressed announcement that he just might vomit. Spidle brims with brittle wit as Whiteside peevishly puts down anyone he deems unhelpful to his aims.
Spidle’s Whiteside makes an excellent anchor for the show’s other eccentrics. The ensemble is consistently strong, but especially entertaining performances are given by David Nisbet as the put-upon patriarch; Liz Pazik as a fearful, flighty oddball; Judy Blue as an ambitious actress; Caitlin Hart as the long-suffering nurse; and Steve Snyder as a genial reporter. Gene Weygandt is the one who steals the show, however–more than once, as he plays three of Whiteside’s famous friends.