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Silver Spring Stage Dinner With Friends

By • Oct 1st, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Silver Spring Stage’s production of Dinner With Friends [MP3 2:21 2.2MB].

Dinner With Friends
Silver Spring Stage
Woodmoor Shopping Center, Silver Spring, MD
$13-$18
Through October 19th

This is the ShowBiz Radio Review of Dinner With Friends, performed by Silver Spring Stage in Silver Spring, Maryland. We saw the performance on Saturday evening, September 27th, 2008.

Dinner With Friends is a play in two acts by Donald Margulies. Dinner With Friends opens as an apparently simple story of one couple’s breakup and its effect on their closest friends, but it grows into a perceptive and surprising exploration of the nature of marriage and friendship itself.

This was a serious show that made you come away thinking about the relationships of couples. The four veteran actors had a good rapport with each other. The superior acting was directed by Craig Allen Mummey.

The first couple, Gabe and Karen, were played by Doug Krehbiel and Leta Hall. Kreihbiel and Hall had a good chemistry together. They were the older couple that had been married longer and were still together. In some ways this was a stereotypical couple. He was the quieter one that did a lot more thinking, partially because he couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Karen was more judgmental and she tended to react emotionally before totally coming to terms with the situation.

Andrea Spitz and Andrew Greenleaf played the second couple, Beth and Tom. Their decision to separate and the decisions that followed the separation strained their relationship with Karen and Gabe. The closing scenes made you realize that this show is about life and thus does not have a nice wrap up at the end.

The set for Dinner with F riends was detailed, and showed a huge amount of flexibility in Silver Spring’s unique stage. The Set Designer was Andrew Greenleaf. The running water in the kitchen and the snow outside the windows showed a great attention to detail for very nice effects.

Dinner With Friends ran two hours and ten minutes with one intermission. It is playing through Sunday October 19, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sunday matinees on October 5th and 19th at 2 PM at the Woodmoor Shopping Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Once you’ve seen the show, please feel free to leave a comment here on our website at ShowBiz Radio.net. We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with theater events in the DC Region.

And now, on with the show.

Director’s Notes

“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.” -Oscar Wilde

As a director, I always try to get the cast to be “on the same page,” as it were, to approach the play from a common viewpoint. This play has been somewhat different. The script has allowed us to find different (and multiple) meanings about divorce and friendship, choices and regrets, fear and hope. Therefore, I can’t know what reactions you will have, but I offer a sampling of mine.

“My wife Mary and I have been married for forty-seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder yes, but divorce, never.” -Jack Benny

I have recently been introduced to the pleasures of Facebook, a website that describes itself as “a social utility that connects you with the people around you.” I was told that so many of my friends had joined that I should, too. Circumstances of this past year had caused me to lose touch with people and I was feeling isolated; it takes effort to communicate, and relationships can easily fall dormant. So there it was – was I a bystander or a participant? I caved to the peer pressure.

One feature of Facbook is the “status update.” You type in whatever you are doing or thinking about, and all of your friend can see your “status” instantly. I click on that box and it says, “Craig is-” The cursor blinks patiently, waiting for me to fill in the blank. What do I want people to know? How much of myself do I share? How will I phrase it so that people will understand exactly what I mean, so that thy will know me better, so that thy will stay connected? Author Mark Doty writes Dog Years, “To attach, to attach passionately to the individual, which is doomed to vanish – does that make one wise, or make one a fool?”

“In every marriage more than on week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find grounds for marriage.”- Robert Anderson

In the days before the show opened I lost my mother to cancer. As Summer turned into Fall, I watched her get weaker and saw the passion and fire for life slowly drain from her face. The last few times I visited her, she never roused from her sleep, becoming what Doty calls that “that empty space of our own death.” But when I tried to say goodbye, I suddenly realized that I had nothing to say, because we left nothing unsaid, we had no unresolved issues. And the anger that had been boiling inside me for months…evaporated, and I was, for the moment, at peace.

I still have to live my own life – to attach, to attach passionately. It’s what each character in this play ultimately wants, too. Yes, all of these attachments will end eventually. We will all suffer loss. But is it foolish to cling to so fiercely? What if there is no passion, or the passion wanes? Are we then condemned as Gabe fears, to a fools’ errand of trying to regain the carefree feelings of youth? Are you at peace with the choices you made in your life, or are you fooling yourself?

Is your real life the one you do not lead? And how, as Karen asks, do you not get lost between the dreams and the reality, the past and the present, the hopes and the fears? In a set of notes that he included in his script, Donald Margulies writes that it is not his intention to “coddle” the audience with a “pat happy ending.” This is not my intention either. But I also do not intend to rob you of hope.

Craig is – “The cursor blinks patiently, waiting for me – like Karen, Gabe, Tom, and Beth – to fill in the blank for everyone to see.

This show is dedicated in loving memory to Barbara Mummey.

Director’s Notes are Copyright 2008 Craig Allen Mummey for the Silver Spring Stage, Reprinted with permission.

Cast

  • Gabe: Doug Krehbiel
  • Karen: Leta Hall
  • Beth: Andrea Spitz
  • Tom: Andrew S. Greenleaf

Crew

  • Director: Craig Allen Mummey
  • Assistant Director and Stage Manager: Jason Matthew Farrell
  • Technical Director: Don Slater
  • Set Designer: Andrew S. Greenleaf
  • Master Carpenter: Andrew S. Greenleaf & Patrick Ready
  • Set Painting: Andrew S. Greenleaf
  • Construction & Painting Assistants: Jacy D’Aiutolo, Mary Dalto, Josh & Todd Fleming, Leta Hall, Richard Ley, Craig Allen Mummey, Mary Seng, Charlene V. Smith, Andrea Spitz, Bill Strein, Bob Thompson
  • Costumes: The Cast
  • Lighting Designer: Don & Jessie Slater
  • Sound Designer: David Steigerwald
  • Special Effects (snow and water): Todd Fleming, Andrew S. Greenleaf, Craig Allen Mummey
  • Properties & Set Dressing: Mary Dalto, Andrew S. Greenleaf, Leta Hall, Richard Ley, Craig Allen Mummey
  • Makeup & Hair: The Cast
  • Lighting and Sound Operators: Sam Basa, Bill Brekke
  • Running Crew Chief: Lynne Yeatman
  • Running Crew: Kimberly Ball Hughes, Calvin Perry, Diane Kochka Perry, John Stange
  • Photographer: Neil Edgell, Jr.
  • Program: Leta Hall
  • Program Cover Design: Craig Allen Mummey
  • Subscription Brochure: Craig Allen Mummey
  • Artistic Liaison: Marcia Kolko
  • Opening Night Reception: Marcia Kolko
  • Hospitality Coordinators: Laurie Freed
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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