Six actors change roles, personalities and ages with virtuoso skill as they portray more than 50 roles in this delightful comedy. The Dining Room marked A.R Gurney's first critical and commercial success.
"The Dining Room serves a banquet of theatrical riches." - The New York Daily News
"…a thoughtful and superbly written comedy…" - Variety
"…hilarious and touching…" - The New York Post
A GREAT GOOD THEATER CAST GLITTERS IN DINING ROOM
Portland Press Herald, November 6, 2005
By Mary Snell
Let's make this clear - I loved Good Theater's current production of A.R. Gurney's "The Dining Room." Great acting, great design, great directing. In this case, a wonderful production of an expertly crafted play...
This fast-paced play is a series of short, unrelated scenes by mostly unrelated characters who play out funny, smart, sexy, vulnerable, irritating moments in the lives of a mulitude of families - all in a dining room. Whew! What a challenge this play is for the six actors! The ensemble cast mustswitch from character to character - from an elderly man, to a boy, to a lover, for instance - with barely enough time for a costume change.
These moments capture a rich range of experiences - from children trying to get close to a depression era patriarch, a troubled daughter asking to come home, a father needing to defend the family honor and his brother, mothers trying to control her sons and daughters, servants knowing their place, loversmeeting, friends talking. Kudos to the fine cast: Tootie Van Reenen, Stephen Underwood, Amy Roche, Denise Poirier, Craig Ela and Sean Demers.
In addition to the great acting, the stunning set by Jon Wojciechowski, the warm, rich lighting by Jamie Grant, and the suitable (but mosty importantly, practical) costume design by Joan McMahon make this production candy for the eye.
GOOD THEATER EULOGIZES A WASP INSTITUTION
Portland Phoenix, November 23, 2005
By Megan Grumbling
"Good Theater’s latest production is built to awe."
The success of The Dining Room depends on the strength of its cast and a strong directorial hand on the rudder. Once again, Good Theater demonstrates its virtuosity, wit, and mastery of the stage. Its formidable ensemble includes Tootie Van Reenen, Stephen Underwood, Amy Roche, Denise Poirier, Craig Ela, and Sean Demers. These well-established actors are as agile in their talents as they are ebullient, clearly having a great time stretching their theatrical sinews as five year-olds in party hats, iconoclastic domestics, and patrician bores. At the same time, nobody overdoes it, and with director Paige’s impeccable pacing, these overlapping scenes make a beguiling succession of treats.
These actors can do it all. The angular Underwood moves easily from a patrician father of the ‘30s, gracefully patronizing the servant, to young Michael, a boy home sick from school and upset that the maid will be leaving for greener pastures. Roche does the old folks particularly well, whether it be decrepit old servants or a batty grandma, and Poirier’s fabulous matrons speak in those restrained upper-class tones that lend devastating gravity to everything from dance lessons to the celery soup. (Poirier and Roche also do a mean scene together as school-girls sneaking gin-and-vodka-and-Frescas.) Ela has snared himself some of the quirkier roles of the show (the best of which is man-of-the-house Standish, who must forego dinner with the family to go down to the club and defend his brother’s honor against an insult delivered in the sauna), and he pulls off this character with great dry restraint. And the versatile Demers and Van Reenen have, among others, a great scene as an Irish carpenter and a divorcée under the dining room table.
That silent role of the dining room is sometimes a flawed one, as Gurney points out with gentle digs at class relations, and a tragicomic one. As it turns out, Harriet is explaining the roses in the old finger bowls for the sake of her nephew’s school project in anthropology. With empathy, intelligence, and mischief, the Good Theater’s fine performance reminds us that the dining room’s real power to awe lies indeed in the past, and in evoking it.
Directed by Lee K. Paige
Cast: Tootie Van Reenen, Stephen Underwood, Amy Roche, Denise Poirier, Craig Ela, Sean Demers
Stage Manager - Karen Dunton
Set Design - Jon Wojciechowski
Lighting Design - Jamie Grant
Costume Design - Joan McMahon
* Member Actors' Equity Association