Another one of those television plays where the focus centers on several different characters in an hour-long slot. Set in a suburban Italian restaurant, it centers on the lives of customers and staff alike. Toni (Paul Geoffrey) is the maître d'h front of house, all slinky charm with the customers and ruthless power with the staff. His underling Luigi (Stephen Greif) doesn't get any sex, and thinks that there's something wrong with him. Among the customers, there are a couple who do nothing else except argue about the government's lack of performance, and three office workers led by Mrs. Danby (Zara Nutley) who drinks a great deal and reinforces her authority through her voice, despite insisting that they are all out for a good time. Oh, and we must not forget the divorcee who is so obsessed by her ex-husband that she cannot see how much she is alienating her friends (Selina Cadell, Peter Sertelen) trying yet failing to give her a nice dinner. There's also the first date from hell, where the couple literally cannot talk to each other.
Director David Cunliffe concentrates on each one of the scenes, but also suggests the guests are watched like hawks by Tom to see the right time to intervene, get the coats and receive the tip. Running this restaurant is like operating a finely coiled spring, where undesirable guests are politely shown the door while financially well-off patrons get treated like royalty.
Jack Rosenthal makes clear that all the guests are involved in a public performance, designed to impress their fellow-guests as well as the staff.
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