Review: Dinner with Friends, Golden Goose

Dining With Friends, Donald Margulie’s delicious and painfully honest look at the effect of infidelity on relationships starts, you guessed it, at dinner. But someone is missing – Beth’s husband Tom. For the next 90 minutes, we join Beth and Tom’s longtime friends Gabe and Karen as they discover what can happen when you stop choosing to love your spouse in favor of your own selfish desires. From the first descriptions of food, to Beth’s (Julia Papp) heartbreaking announcement about the end of her marriage, to Gabe’s painfully truthful conclusions about relationships, the script never leaves…

Evaluation

Good
A frank, honest, and often painful examination of the destructive effects of infidelity on relationships.

Dinner With Friends , Donald Margulies A delicious and painfully honest look at the effect of infidelity on relationships starts, you guessed it, at dinner. But someone is missing – Beth’s husband Tom. For the next 90 minutes, we join Beth and Tom’s longtime friends Gabe and Karen as they discover what can happen when you stop choosing to love your spouse in favor of your own selfish desires.

From the first descriptions of food, to Beth’s ( Júlia Papp ) heartbreaking announcement of the end of her marriage, to Gabe’s painfully truthful conclusions about relationships, the script never gives up. Unfortunately, despite the obvious dedication, effort and care of the cast, the first act lacks spontaneity and often falls short of believable. Still, it’s hard to say what the reason for this might be, as in its second act Front Foot Theater the production actually comes to life. It’s like someone flips a light switch. Suddenly, the audience is drawn into 40 minutes of engaging, believable and heartbreakingly honest performances as we watch Gabe, Karen, Tom and Beth deal with the bombastic revelations of the first act.

The Front Foot Theater’s incredibly innovative slots come together beautifully to allow the cast to seamlessly transition between scenes, and while it might be a tacky thing to say, Helena Rosa Hampton and Jason Wilsonfit together as wonderfully as food couple Karen and Gabe. With an energy that leaps straight from the stage, it’s not hard to understand how an excited retelling of a recent trip to Italy causes a heartbroken Beth to depart and share the news that will forever change her dynamic. It is at this point that Dinner with Friends becomes difficult to watch. As our primary storyteller, Gabe is taken aback by the sudden uprooting of what he expects from life and the audience is sucked into the resulting emotions along with him. His discovery of the confusion that ensues when his best friend cheats on his wife’s best friend is frank and heartbreaking, but let’s be honest, it would never be pretty.

Throughout its runtime, Wilson’s Gabe anchors the story in sober emotion while bringing silent confusion, deep frustration, and decisive commitment to his role. Meanwhile, Tom, played by Front Foot Theater co-founder Kim Hardy , makes his friend’s world spin on its axis with his explosive approach to a marriage he sees as restrictive, unfair and unfair.

Commendably, Hardy doesn’t shy away from Tom’s self-centered bitterness, instead playing with his desires to their fullest extent, leaving the audience to decide for ourselves how we really feel about his actions. Like the wife left behind when her husband chooses morning runs and more sex over family, Papp brings a broken unease to Beth that is uncomfortable to watch. It must be said, Tom is a man we all know and, like Beth, some of us love.

Dining with friends raises the question: what drives us to love? And what do we do when whatever stops guiding us after we’ve made a commitment like marriage? To its credit, the company deftly presents two very different answers to these questions that will either leave the public uneasy or reassured. Though honestly, it’s hard to predict which one.

Written by: Donald Margulies
Directed by: Lawrence Carmichael
Produced by: Front Foot Theater

Dinner with friends at Golden Goose until November 26th. More information and reservations can be found here.