Optimistically Cautious

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Theatre: "Dinner with Friends"

Having read about Dinner with Friends in Avenue Magazine a few weeks ago, I had wanted then to see it for Davina Stewart alone. But the plot and its Pulitzer-prize winning pedigree aren't too shabby either. From the Roxy Theatre website:

"Two married couples have been best friends for years, but when one couple announces they’re splitting up, the rug is pulled out from underneath their comfortable foursome."

Mack's one word reaction to this play (as 'overheard in the theatre') was "heavy." From Beth and Tom's exhausting bedroom brawl, Tom's painful description of a disintegrating marriage, to Karen and Gabe's realization of their own fears and insecurities, all of the scenes resonated with an uncomfortable realism and a naked truth. I found the last act, with separate scenes between the two women and men the most poignant. The friends weren't able to relate to each other anymore; they had lost the common ground they had built their adult lives on.

The cast was positively superb. Though my initial thought was that Dana Andersen was the weakest link (due to his lack of intensity compared with the other three), I do now agree with Mack's opinion that Andersen played exactly the type of character asked for - unassuming and laid back. While the actors did a great job, I think the play would have worked better if all four cast members looked about the same age. Otherwise, as was the case here, it seemed like the more mature Karen and Gabe trumped the younger, more naive couple.

The production made great use of portable kitchen sets, complete with edible lemon almond polenta cake (a recipe of which is included in the program)! I also liked the curtains of circular chains positioned above the stage - great visual of the connectedness of both couples, the 'natural' cycle of marriage (as referred to by Gabe: newlyweds, mortgage, children, menopause), and of course, marriage rings (noticeably worn only by Karen and Gabe). There was also an interesting use of offstage presence - the kids and both of Tom and Beth's new partners are never seen, only heard and discussed - emphasizing both the "he said, she said" conundrum and highlighting the forced reliance on experience relayed through words.

Overall, it was a very personal and relatable play, and truly, "you never know what couples are like when they're alone; you never do."



Post a Comment

<< Home