The Ridgelea Reports on Theatre

"Dinner with Friends" at the Westport Country Playhouse

 By Tom Nissley

Donald Margulies’ "Dinner with Friends" is a strange play that describes two couples who were friends and then — one couple got divorced! So the repartee they had as a foursome was gone, and they knew each other differently. It’s a whimsical story that may or may not try to prop up the idea of marriage. And since one of the couples works together as food writers, the opening scenes take place in a gourmet kitchen and involves special recipes gleaned from a trip to Italy.

The food writers, Gabe (Steven Skybell) and Karen (Jenna Stern) actually introduced Tom (David Aaron Baker) and Beth (Mary Bacon) twelve years ago, and for all that time the foursome has continued to play at the game of wonderful food and wines as a ritual to structure their friendship. So when Tom and Beth break up, well, the menu changes. Beth goes on to a new man in her life, and separates away. Tom has found a new woman. All that’s left at the end of the play is a slightly bored Gabe and Karen, holding their marriage together with a little ritual in which Gabe, doing "what a man has to do," scares Karen with a gentle "boo!"

So, if you think that a foursome of cheese, wine, and casseroles was a good beginning, and are conned into thinking that a neurotic couple putting a scare into their bedroom ritual demonstrates a model formula for marriage, you may leave the theater feeling blessed. Otherwise, you’ll find more questions in this classic than you will find answers.

The production is a lovely one, with great sets (Lee Savage) that come riding in from left field with everything, including kitchen items, in place. Matthew Richards’ lighting is memorable, too. David Kennedy directs.  The play is at Westport Country Playhouse through June 19.

 

Tickets at 203-227-4177, or www.westportplayhouse.org.

Tom  Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre                   June 11, 2010

Tom Nissley is a well-known Realtor in New Canaan who has been reporting on excellent theater and music in and near Connecticut for 25 years.  He loves the excitement of living in Fairfield County and yes, he is available to speak with you about real estate.

Tom  Nissley, for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre

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