FRONT ROW CENTER
By Cindy Paul
A.R. Gurney, Jr.s
THE DINING ROOM
Directed by Helen Desjardins
had my doubts about The Dining Room. The script verges on
the avant garde, a difficult style and somewhat passé,
not to mention a bit outside for our Lakeside audiences.
But the night I attended, the folks thoroughly
enjoyed the play, and so did I.
This play is artfully crafted and held
our attention throughout. The impact of the premise alone gave the script
enough momentum to stay alive for two hours, something I dont
recall observing before.
The idea is to show a slice of life
representation of dozens of scenes revolving around the same dining
room set. Its a depiction of different characters in different
time frames overlapping and interwoven like a four-dimensional crossword
puzzle. Three men and three women portray about 50 characters. Its
an actors play and youd better have some solid acting to
pull the whole thing off.
They did. The cast was very strong and
worked well in their individual and team efforts to do justice to the
My take is that the roles are pretty evenly
divided, so I mention the players now in order of appearance:
Well not soon forget Liz White,
shiny as usual (especially as a youth), in the scene shared with Jim
Lloyd under the dining room table. Ken Varcoe, a fine and sensitive
actor, appeared to have enjoyed this challenge even as he rose to meet
it handily. Jo Gamma, back to the LLT boards after a long hiatus, is
a more than welcome talent, and we expect to see much more of her in
the future. Jeritza McCarter handed in her usual top-level performance.
Ray Himmelman, another dependable and always interesting local actor,
rounded out this excellent team.
If you think that because the set consisted
of only a table and some chairs, there wasnt much to do in the
way of blocking and technical work for this show, youd be wrong.
It was probably not as demanding as most plays, but there was quite
a lot of good work done in that regard. One example is that, where director
Desjardins could have manufactured a lot of movement for movements
sake, she usually refrained and trusted the playwright. Moments of valid
silence were also left in... good call!
Assisting the director was Margot Holaday
with Joy Reeder as stage manager. Set coordinator was Pat Varcoe, lights
were designed by Sue Breitfeller and operated by Roberta Ann Hilleman,
and sound by Mike Harris. On wardrobe was Margot Holaday, with makeup
by Dagmar Strole and Margaret Sloat and props by Clarence Sevy, Carol
Waters and Philip Caracena.
This was a risky choice of plays, but
it turned out very well. I must say at this point that the quality of
work put out by the LLT this year has soared. Bravo!
One persons opinion
Review by Alejandro Grattan
plywood stage, a blue backdrop with two cardboard Thespian masks (both
comic), two chairs and a crate adorning the so-called stage. You
now have the setting for Comedy Classics. Pathetic.
Then the house lights went out, the spot came up, and we were transported
to Second City in Chicago.
The comedy routines ran the gamut:
Bob Newhart, Rowan Atkinson, Roseanne Barr, Bob & Ray, comic songs
such as Im My Own Grampaw, my personal favorite, The
Bickersons, cynic George Carlin, and then the piece de resistance,
Whos on First, by Abbott & Costello.
Cindy Paul and Lonny Riddle were, as expected,
terrific. But the surprise of the evening was Flip Nicholson...
where has he been hiding? What a talent, with stage presence galore.
Howard Dreicer made a personable emcee and lovely Marcia Miller kept
it all together with jokes and a trivia contest. Bob Parker ran the
sound cues and Lynn Keturakis and Mike McKenzie were on lights.
They will be doing another performance
in March. If for no other reason than to catch Whos
on First, dont miss Comedy Classics the next