New Berlin - "I laughed out loud reading the script, and I just don't do that," said Judy Smith, artistic director and manager of West PAC the performing arts center at New Berlin West Middle/High School, 18695 W. Cleveland Ave.

She was speaking of Neil Simon's “The Dinner Party” that will be presented Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12, at West PAC.

The story, set in a high-end restaurant in Paris, focuses on six guests, each one drawn with Simon's keen observation of human nature. Everyone should see people they know, or even themselves, in the characters, Smith said. Watching how they interact with their flaws and strengths could well be eye-opening for how certain traits can lead to the downfall of relationships, she said.

"This is a great relationship show," Smith said. It relies on bantering, bickering and realistic characters, she said.

From experience

Simon had already been through five marriages when he wrote the play, so he had considerable depth when crafting the characters, she said. The six guests are three divorced couples.

"The Dinner Party" is a departure for Simon because he wanted to write a farce where the characters were real, rather than exaggerated as in the normal farce, Smith said.

"He wanted real characters who are funny," she said.

The first part of the play is very funny, she said, while the second part turns serious. But the journey through the one-act play will be rewarding, even to those just wanting to be entertained, Smith said.

Satisfying ending

"He took it to a real and warm place at the end," she said.

The bantering comedy is played by in order of appearance, Zach Karolek (Claude Pichon), James Karolek (Albert Donay), Brooklyn DiPietrantonio (Andre Bouville), Krysta Hoffman (Mariette Levieux), Audrey Moczulewski (Yvonne Fouchet) and Ilisia Du Mez (Gabrielle Buonocelli).

Performances will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 12.  Admission will be $9, general, $7 for seniors, $5 for students, $2 for children. Advance tickets are available for an additional service fee at the West Performing Arts Center's website.

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