A glimpse into the life of a dining room table and all the lives it has touched throughout its time
By Bethany Pithan
Tuesday night at 7:30pm I was privileged to see a production of The Dining Room, written by A.R. Gurney and directed by Donald A. Correll, performed at LCC Center Stage. This exceptional cast included Shae Colman, Skylar Cruz, Phillip A Kennedy, Diane Krane, Austin McLaughlin and Shizuka Moon. This funny and heartwarming play gives us a glimpse into the life of a dining room table and all the lives it has touched throughout its time. This comedy of manners is a fun window into the humanity of 18 different family’s lives that seamlessly overlap and intertwine.
I loved the story of The Dining Room. It was an interesting and entertaining journey through the lives of 18 White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) families who all share the same dining room set through different eras. Some scenes revolve around the furniture itself and the attachment the characters have to it, while others focus on the culture, traditions and daily lives of the families in their respective era.
I can’t say enough about the actors in this show, I should just refer to them as an ensemble because that’s exactly what they were. Since the show only had six actors in it, everyone played multiple characters and ages. This cast seamlessly changed characters from scene to scene. I loved to see them jump from adults to kids, back to adults to grandparents and back around again. It wasn’t just words on a page that transformed this ensemble; it was their physicality, inner tempo, and their ability to work as a group. This ensemble was great at listening to each other and reacting honestly. Their projection was perfect; I had no problem hearing any of the actors, which is a problem I have encountered in previous Center Stage productions.
The Design concepts for the show were simple and beautiful. Costumes were simple and worked for each character as they moved through time periods and age. They added to the characters and never detracted. I loved how simple the set was; it really made it clear that the table and the characters were what were important in the story. The lighting also helped guide the audience through the different emotions in the different scenes.
The audience was extremely attentive and enjoyed a lot of laughs, especially when the ensemble changed into children at a birthday party. I never knew it would be so much fun to know what happens in everyone’s Dining Room. I definitetly walked away wanting to talk about the show, how it made me feel, and how it related to me. This, for me, is the mark of a great show.
IF YOU GO: The play runs Feb 22-25, Mar 1-3 and March 8-10. See details at right.
Learn more about "The Dining Room" and Don Correll, the director of LCC Center Stage productions by clicking HERE.
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Director Don Correll explains that this play is about WASP's loss of power and presitge in the U.S. seen through New England WASPs over a 50-year period. "As they lose their power you see the changing role of the dining room from the center of family life to a room that is completely ignored." How do you think the role of dining rooms in American family life has changed and what does this mean? If you've seen this particular prodection of "The Dining Room," please share your reactions/impressions in the comment space below.
Bethany Pithan has long been active in local community theatre. She lives in Longview.