Saturday, 21 November 2015

'Dinner With Friends' Park Theatre ****

Being able to confide in your friends is an admirable thing where issues with their coupling is causing huge wedges between them, additionally, the exploration of how relationships can differ from one couple to another, yet can a divorce force a unity of two couples who have been friends for a long time force their friendship to be eradicated almost immediately? The Park Theatre’s production of Donald Margulies’ 2001 play, ‘Dinner With Friends’ is an interesting and sad production about divorce and the impingement  of friendship, not to mention the enactments were beautifully conveyed.

‘Dinner With Friends’ is set in the US state, Connecticut, 2000 or 2001 where we are familiarised with two completely opposite married couples, Gabe and Karen seem to be like the perfectly married coupling, whereas, their friends, Tom and Beth are far from happy as Tom has been deceitful towards Beth as he is currently in a relationship with a woman who is vastly younger than him. At a dinner in which Tom is absent, Beth informs Gabe and Karen that her marriage to Tom is practically over and as you would expect the news is a complete shock to Gabe and Karen. The news causes immense concern with Gabe and Karen as change is on the cards.  Due to the fact that Tom cheated on Beth, Karen is disgusted in Tom’s actions and when Tom arrives at Gabe and Karen’s late in the evening, Karen warns her husband that she doesn’t want to see or speak to him when he is there, however, Gabe thinks it is best to hear his side of the story to see what could be done to fix their marriage. Throughout the performance, we are given the opportunity to see how Tom and Beth met each other and how they met was through a blind date that was organised by Gabe and Karen, but the date does not go that smoothly as Tom thinks that Beth’s hippy persona is far too strange for him and when they have an accident the two develop feeling for each other.  As the play progresses, with Tom and Beth living new lives and Beth has a new man who makes her really exultant, on the other hand, when Karen and Beth are having lunch together conflict arises when Karen makes it clear to Beth that she does not approve of her friends new relationship.  In a similar instance to Beth, Tom is having a much cheerier time with the woman with whom he cheated on Beth with, nonetheless, when Tom meets Gabe in a bar it appears that Gabe is not adjusting to the change. He specifies that he no longer recognises him as the friend he made at university years and years ago and states to Tom that their friendship will not be the same again. At the finale, in Gabe and Karen’s bedroom, the two of two contemplate on the state of their marriage as they really do not want to get into a similar situation to that of Tom and Beth as they are so in love with one another. When they discuss this they declare that their nuptials will last forever. Margulies’ narrative is intuitive as we are allowed to see the impact of friendships where one couple are going through the divorce proceedings causes the loved-up couple to re-evaluate where their marriage is going. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Dinner With Friends’ to be exceedingly convincing of how one couple are serene and one are at each other’s throats with well-established diction and intonation. Hari Dhillon is tremendous as dishonest, Tom; explicitly where he has the audacity to justify the reasons for him cheating on his wife, plus, the part where he speaks to Gabe about his new life and sex drive has made him feel younger suggests that he may be going through a mid-life crisis. Shaun Dooley is brilliant a contented and devoted husband, Gabe; chiefly where you see how disappointed he is with the realisation that Tom and Beth will never rekindle their love for each other, moreover, the relationship between him and wife, Karen is so sweet and conveys that relationships in the modern world can survive.  Sara Stewart is grandiose as Gabe’s loving wife, Karen; particularly where her displeasure at knowing that Beth is having a new relationship portrays how change can cause strains in relationships that are as close as Karen and Beth and it shows how friends need to remain supportive at all times. Finty Williams is fantastic as Tom’s suffering wife, Beth; notably where you can see how her new lease of life with her new man can be seen with how fresh her face looks and her outlook on life is been reverted in a positive way, furthermore, that being separated from Tom has been quite good for her. 

Tom Attenborough’s direction is transcendent here as he has been able to construct a really fruitful revival of a play that could become a soap opera with a longer existence and how the change of friendships and the environment of the situation can cause mammoth battles along the way in a divorce process. David Woodhead’s set and costume designs are wondrous as I was immediately engrossed into this state of the US where divorce and friendships are put to the test, in addition to this, the costumes depicted the characters characteristics in such a simplistic but exciting manner which was awesome. Overall, the experience of, ‘Dinner With Friends’ to be brilliantly created in such a moving and educational way.

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