The Dinner’s Pièce de Résistance

By Marinell Haegelin

No Dinner For Sinners by Edward Taylor with English Theatre’s Clifford Dean directing

 No self-respecting woman wants to be a “temporary trollop”, especially after investing two years in a relationship. So, presenting his scheme Jim’s kid-at-heart attitude gets him into hot water. Helen would willingly accept his proposal, if only for the right reason. Jim’s current predicament is his American boss, a Christian-bound crusader, is in town, invited to dinner, and condemns unsanctioned liaisons. Leaving in a huff, Helen makes it clear he’s on his own. Flabbergasted, Jim pulls out his Rolodex-file and frantically calls ex-girlfriends. He needs a “wife” to cook and entertain the head-honcho, tonight! When Terri turns up with papers to sign, Jim targets her for an evening of wifedom. But, as luck would have it, Terri has a previous commitment. Therefore, his housecleaner Edna’s sure-fire solution sounds plausible: A mature woman that would proudly stand by her man. Naturally, there’s a price involved that involves Jim getting his hands dirty. Flash-forward to last-minute jitters and pre-arrival panic. Hallelujah, Bill and Nancy’s arrival goes smoothly enough. Primed, Jim interjects whenever Edna wanders off topic, and global stock exchange trading distracts in Jim’s favor. Unanticipated is Helen’s change of heart, and Terri’s change of plans. Just when the hammer of doom is being lowered a surprising, licentious face-saving solution pops-up, much to audiences delight.


The Cast are left to right: Jan Hirst, Debbie Radcliffe, James Walmsley, Toni Peach. Standing behind the sofa: Paul Sloss, Lucy Sinclair
Credit: Kock, ETH

The British dramatist and radio producer Edward Taylor wrote comedy material for numerous British Broadcasting Corporation radio series, shows, and panel games during his 36 years there. Writing for theatre, Taylor’s gamut includes thrillers and broad political and satirical comedies. No Dinner for Sinners upholds his unmistakable sense of satirical humor. Within a credible scenario, Taylor highlights people’s reactions to the unexpected, moral issues, and the mundane. The only lull in this fast-paced comedy centers on the sofa, which the cast work around.


Comedy is all about timing, and delivery. A pause, a raised eyebrow, the tilt of a head or hand on the hip can transform ordinary remarks to laugh-out-loud moments. With deft ease, Clifford Dean’s masterful vision directs the thespians movements and exchanges onstage, eliciting guffaws and giggles from audiences. Paul Sloss, as Jim, confounds by nimbly shifting between the sharp businessman, and a social bungler. Where’s his mettle? Countering this are the women caught up in his charade. Jim’s partner, Helen—Lucy Sinclair—who’s abreaction gives way to her decent nature, albeit she’s not above conniving. Particularly, if it means being usurped by the help. Jim’s secretary, Terri—Toni Peach—who’s loyal, infatuated, and underappreciated, considering her perceptive negotiating skills. Jim’s cleaning lady, Edna—Jan Hirst—who confidently confronts dilemmas with straightforwardness, and resourcefulness. Her prattle begets truly capital results. James Walmsley’s adroit facial and physical movements accentuate the wily boss, Bill, and Debbie Radcliffe, as the quick, accommodating, neglected executive wife Nancy round out the versatile London cast. Watching their delightful maneuvering and the hilarity it conveys is sure to blow away your winter blues.


NO DINNER FOR SINNERS premiered November 19 and runs until February 6, 2015. The next production is EDUCATING RITA, a celebrated comedy by Willy Russell about personal matters, freedom, and class systems that has educated countless audiences. It premieres on February 18, 2016 through April 16, 2016.


Evening and matinee performances; tickets available at the theatre or online: The English Theatre of Hamburg, Lerchenfeld 14, 22081 Hamburg, Tel: 040-227 70 89: U-Bahn Mundsburg.