The Dining Room | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Dining Room 

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The Dining Room, TinFish Theatre. This A.R. Gurney play could easily be described as an anthropological study. Its 18 scenes put the dynamics of an American family on not entirely nostalgic display. The dining room is the only constant as six actors perform numerous characters in quick succession. Scenes often overlap, with new characters taking over the dining room before the last have moved on. It's a conceit that requires versatile actors who must make immediate shifts in personality and sensibility as the play moves swiftly from the 1930s to today.

The TinFish cast does a decent job, but too few of the 57 characters are fully realized. Still, there are sharp bits, such as Jon Frazier and Mary Jo Bolduc's squabbling siblings vying for the dining room furniture, and Martti Nelson's entertaining turn as a socialite making decisions for her daughter. Reid Ostrowski is especially good playing a grandfather begrudging his timid grandson money moments after he portrayed a sniveling child. Frazier also brings out the play's comedy as preppy Standish, off to the club to demand an apology for an insult done to his brother. Directed by Dejan Avramovich, this dining room is home to intimate moments both funny and poignant, but for the production to truly resonate we need more of them.

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