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Milburn Stone Theatre Dinner with Friends

By • Sep 22nd, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Dinner with Friends
Milburn Stone Theatre
Milburn Stone Theatre, North East, MD
Through September 23rd
2:10 with intermission
$18/$15 Student, Senior/$10 Children
Reviewed September 21st, 2012

Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage! Do they? Is love enough? What are the true bonds of friendship? These questions are raised, some are answered and some are not in Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize winning play Dinner with Friends. Margulies examines and evaluates marriage from two sets of couples and four different view points in this passionate, intriguing, humorous and touching play.

Gabe (Mike Ware) and Karen (Melanie Bishop) find themselves in the middle of a break up that leads to a divorce between their best friends Beth (Karen Decker) and Tom (John Mulvey) who they introduced to each other some 12 years ago. Tom has left Beth and their two adolescent children for a younger woman. As the truth unravels we begin to see the trials and tribulations of relationship and human nature. Gabe has a very hard time accepting that his best friend is a bad guy, and at first tries to come to his aid as full forced as possible. Karen immediately sides with Beth and refuses to consider that there might be two sides to every story, and that Tom might possibly be a victim in this marriage as he insists he is. The play examines the present and the past and gives us a glimpse into the future. Not only does this body of work demonstrate the sad side of a loveless deteriorating marriage, but also focuses on Gabe and Karen’s union and demonstrates the ups and downs, struggles and achievements of a marriage that’s in it for the long haul. It also brings to reality the meaning understanding and the complexity of friendship.

Director Marshal B Garret makes an overall impressive statement with this multi-layered piece of work by keeping the show simple and honest, letting the words and the actors do most of the work. Creating a simple yet stylish abstract set, (Designed by S. Lee Lewis) that starts off with the house of the hosts and slowly breaks away into smaller pieces and settings indicating and imitating the demise of love relationship and time. Tess Pohlhaus’s lighting design shines with unique and subtle moments from scene to scene. Beautiful and spot on operatic arias sung by Pavarotti and Placido Domingo are heard during the scene changes.

The cast of four work well together, understanding the material and Garret’s vision. Ware shines as the patient and loving friend and husband, delivering the role with undertoned nuances and honest emotions. Bishop slowly but surely grows in to her character letting us see the passion and the struggle of a woman who longs for happiness but at times questions it. Decker puts in many layers into her Beth and achieves most of them though sometimes her choices of growth and appropriate emotions are questionable. Mulvey who plunks himself into the role with great effort and intensity never quite reaches the meat of the character, and leaves us very unclear and uninterested whether you should hate the guy or just feel sorry for the jerk that he is.

Milburn Stone Theatre has chosen a difficult and innovative piece of theatre that other companies might shy away from. And for that I say BRAVO!

Cast

  • Gabe: Mike Ware
  • Karen: Melanie Bishop
  • Beth: Karen Decker
  • Tom: John Mulvey

Production Team

  • Director: Marshal B Garrett
  • Scenic Design: S. Lee Lewis
  • Lighting Design: Tess Pohlhaus
  • Costume Design: Jojo Siu
  • Sound Design: Marshal B Garrett
  • Prop Master: Eyvo Johnson
  • Assistant Director: Tess Polhaus
  • Master Chef: Ted Cregger
  • Stage Manager: Tyler Bristow
  • Crew: Cory Bristow, Brandon Gorin, Tyler Peterson, Jenn Wilson

Disclaimer: Milburn Stone Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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worked for twenty years as a professional actor and director, as well as worked a myriad of other theatrical production roles at various levels. In recent years, he served as Artistic Director/President of STROyKA Theatre in Washington, DC. Roman privately teaches acting, voice, and piano and serves as a consultant to various groups and schools. His primary role is stay-at-home dad and full-time college student. He also directs the Voices Unlimited Youth Choir at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD.

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