Reviewed by Tony Annicone
The latest show at The Arctic Playhouse is the “The Dining Room” by A.R. Gurney from 1982. This comedy is set in a dining room of a well to do household and covers decades of upper middle class families in New England starting in 1930. The action is comprised of 18 brief vignettes where 6 performers,3 women and 3 men play 57 multiple roles.
Some of the scenes include a birthday party, a Thanksgiving Day tinged with sadness when the elderly mother who has dementia wants to go back to her childhood home, a cancelled party and an older woman trying to seduce a younger man. Director Sandy Cerel gives each of her six cast members their moment to shine in this show. Each scene melds into the other but the storyline isn’t connected. The overlapping vignettes introduce a new set of events and characters. They range from the devious to the devoted, from the heartbreaking to the heartwarming, and from delinquent to the delightful. A splendid evening of entertainment.
Sandy obtains strong performances from her cast in both the comic and poignant moments. She always brings out the best in her performers. The three best scenes are the birthday party scene with its joie-de-vivre, the Thanksgiving scene which moves you to tears and the hilarious defense of his brother scene where he tells his family that he’s going to the club to defend his brother’s reputation. Not wanting to give too much away about the show, I will praise each of the performers for a topnotch job on their multiple roles. Caraline Connor plays an adulterous wife, sweet schoolgirl, mom who has returned to college and a maid who has had her fill of domestic service. Stefan DiPippo plays a charming furniture man, a would-be-adulterer, a man whose married daughter moves back home, a college student who walks in on his mom with his uncle and a psychiatrist Eileen Goretaya plays a rebellious teenager, a flirtatious divorcee, a privileged mother, the birthday girl and a disillusioned and confused mother of three children. Daniel Holmes plays an architect with emotional baggage, an adolescent at an awkward meeting with his grandfather, the family patriarch who has carefully planned every detail of his funeral and a man who must fight for his brother’s honor at “the club.” Cindy Killavey plays a snooty controlling mother, an aunt who discusses her china for her nephew’s college project, an old lady whose signs of dementia rattle her family (very poignantly portrayed) and a disgruntled maid. J.P. McCormick plays a young boy devastated by the resignation of the family maid, a self-made man whose many grandchildren have set their sights on his money, an eldest son distraught by his mother’s worsening dementia and a man who becomes romantically involved with his best friend’s wife. Stage manager Hen Zannini keeps things running smoothly backstage and onstage all night long. So for a show filled with excellent direction and performances, be sure to catch “The Dining Room” before time runs out.
THE DINING ROOM (19 May to 3 June)
The Arctic Playhouse, 117 Washington St, West Warwick, RI
1(401)573-3443 or www.thearcticplayhouse.com