Next on stage:
"The Dining Room"By A.R. Gurney opens April 23, 2015 Director: Fiona Foster
Thrifty Thursday April 23 at 7pm.
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm April 24,25, May 1,2,8.9.
Sundays at 2pm April 26, May 3,10.
The Tred Avon Players presents The Dining Room, A. R. Gurney's funny and wistful portrayal of the decline of upper-middle-class, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) culture, opening April 23 at the Oxford Community Center. Nominated for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in drama, this brilliant comedy of manners is directed by TAP veteran Fiona Foster.
The play is set entirely in an elegantly appointed dining room, Gurney's symbol for the last bastion of the Northeastern social set. Deploying a passing parade of characters in a series of vignettes, the playwright gently skewers some of the shortcomings of WASP aristocracy but also laments the loss of its traditional values, including grace, good order, family togetherness and, of course, the stiff upper lip.
Foster faces the challenge of directing eight actors playing 56 different characters of varying ages in 18 separate scenes, a structural device that Gurney, in typically understated WASP fashion, once called "oddly demanding." Indeed, the actors change roles, personalities and ages with virtuoso skill as they depict a wide variety of characters, ranging from little boys to stern grandfathers and from giggling teenage girls to Irish housemaids.
Each vignette introduces a new set of people and events that reflect the fragmentation of WASP culture: a father lectures his son on grammar and politics; a boy returns from boarding school to discover his mother's infidelity; a senile grandmother doesn't recognize her own sons at a Christmas dinner; a daughter, her marriage in shambles, pleads futilely to return to the stable home life that she remembers from childhood. Dovetailing swiftly and smoothly, the varied scenes ultimately coalesce into a theatrical experience of exceptional range, compassionate humor and abundant humanity.