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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Dinner with Friends" at Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/ Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "Dinner with Friends" at Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/ Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
Harold Wolpert, Managing Director
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager

Dinner with Friends
(Dinner with Friends Website)

By Donald Margulies
Directed by Pam MacKinnon

With: Heather Burns, Marin Hinkle,
Darren Pettie, Jeremy Shamos

Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY
(Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre Website)

Set Design: Allen Moyer
Costume Design: Ilona Somogyi
Lighting Design: Jane Cox
Original Music & Sound Design: Josh Schmidt
Hair & Wig Design: Charles G. LaPointe
Fight Director: Thomas Schall
Production Stage Manager: Charles M. Turner III
Press: Polk & Co.
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA, Carrie Gardner, CSA
Dinner with Friends General Manager: Nicholas J. Caccavo
Director of Marketing/Audience Development: Tom O’Connor
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Director of Development: Lynne Guggenheim Gregory
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 14, 2014

Although Dinner with Friends, a revival of the 1998 Donald Margulies Pulitzer prize-winning play, features the marriages of two couples and their inter-locking friendships, one character seemed to especially transcend the dialogue. That was Gabe (Jeremy Shamos), an understated actor in so many fine productions, whose gestures and tone create dramatic depth of compassion and conflict. Mr. Shamos’ Gabe is married to Karen (Marin Hinkle), and in the opening scene in a Connecticut, upscale kitchen, they sit with best friend, Beth (Heather Burns), whose husband Tom (Darren Pettie) is on a business trip. The talk seems lifted from a Julia Childs’ TV show, as they describe, with relish, delicacies savored on a trip to Italy and the joys of natural, organic ingredients in cooking and baking. Beth seems distracted and soon breaks into tears about Tom’s rejection and faithlessness in their twelve-year marriage. Meanwhile, the couples’ young children call from upstairs, as they try to navigate a DVR and children’s film.

Karen and, mostly, Gabe act as if an earthquake struck, with acute sadness of loss of momentum and homeostasis. The immediate shock of a new present and future for all three envelops the warm hearth. Subsequent scenes bring Tom home from his trip, to his and Beth’s bedroom early, at first unwelcome and then jumping into the marital bed, not to stay, but to yield to unbreakable chemistry. Love and hate, so closely bound. A later scene shifts to Karen and Gabe’s bedroom, with less passion, but no panic. Twelve and a half years earlier (as we are shown) in Martha’s Vineyard, Gabe and Karen had brought Tom and Beth together, in a far off kitchen, also surrounded by healthy produce and dinnerware. Tom and Beth were so eager, so cool, so about-to-be-joined. That was then, this is now. Further scenes (thanks to brilliant, shifting set designs by Allen Moyer) take place on Gabe and Karen’s patio, a Manhattan bar, and Karen and Gabe’s Vineyard bedroom. When Beth, a few months after Act I, begins dating, looking great, Karen begins the emotional earthquake distancing, that had attacked Gabe, in his own self-searching, months earlier. Gabe, then Karen, battled fantasy futures, as they gazed on their exuberantly changed best friends.

Pam MacKinnon has directed in such a way to emphatically draw the audience in. Thanks to Ms. MacKinnon, each of the four actors shifted public personas with fascinating nuance, while maintaining private personas of noticeable, but quiet introspection. As mentioned above, Allen Moyer created magnetic cuisines and a beach home with the elements of romantic surroundings. Thanks to Jane Cox’ lighting and Josh Schmidt’s sound (as well as musical interludes) Mr. Moyer’s scenes were persuasive and the varying moods compelling. Ilona Somogyi’s costumes helped dress Beth from comfortable to fashionable, with Tom dressing a bit roguish. I look forward to this season’s wonderful productions by Roundabout Theatre Company.


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at