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A CurtainUp Connecticut Review
Dinner With Friends
Beth (Mary Bacon) and Tom (David Aaron Baker) are in trouble when Tom announces that he's seeing his travel agent and wants out of the 12-year marriage with Beth that has made him miserable. Just as shocked as Beth are Karen (Jenna Stern) and Gabe (StevenSkybell) who introduced them and with whom they raised children, vacationed and enjoyed many "dinners with friends."
Karen and Gabe find themselves taking sides and questioning how close the friendship really has been. They also wonder whether their own marriage, seemingly satisfying to both, might also be vulnerable. The questions become even more complicated when Beth takes up with a secret lover from her past.
Stern and Skybell are enjoyable as the boring but happy, haut-cuisine loving couple and have a natural rapport on stage. Director David Kennedy fails to extract the same from Bacon and Baker, however, with both sounding like they're just reciting lines. Bacon is a little over the top and seems forced.
Savage's quick-change sets divert attention from the flaws, however, as he effortlessly slides elements for seven different locations onto the stage. Lighting design by Matthew Richards, costumes by Emily Rebholz and original music and sound design by Fitz Patton all garnish the overall satisfying presentation.
Editor's Note: It's been eleven years since Dinner With Friends premiered at the now defunct Variety Arts Theater in downtown Manhattan. It went on to win the Pulitzer for Best Drama and was a made-for-TV movie in 2001 with Dennis Quaid and Andie McDowell as Gabe and Karen and Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear as Beth and Tom. To read our review of the premiere production go here. Margulies' most recent play, Time Stands Still also about two couples, will extend last season's successful Broadway run when it reopens at the Cort Theater.