With the divorce rate as startling high as it is, it's not uncommon to find plays that deal with this subject matter. However, playwright Donald Margulies examines not only the plight of the couple going through the breakup, but that of their friends as well. With Dinner with Friends, Dramatic License Productions has put together a fine cast under sharp direction in their presentation of this timely and thought-provoking work.
When Beth breaks down during a dinner party with her close friends Gabe and Karen she reveals that her and her spouse Tom are going to divorce. Apparently, Tom has committed adultery and decided that the marriage is not only over, but hasn't been functioning properly for quite some time. It's a shock to Gabe and Karen because they are their closest friends, and because they are the ones that introduced the couple to one another. The fallout from their separation affects them deeply and causes them to question their own tranquility.
The entire cast is top notch and all shine in their respective parts. Sarah Cannon elicits a degree of sympathy as the injured party, Beth, an artist by trade. But, Chad Morris, who plays her husband Tom, is also due some understanding since his adulterous behavior was apparently brought own by a perceived lack of caring and intimacy. Christopher Hickey does good work as Gabe, walking a fine line between being a good friend to Tom and a good husband to his wife, Karen. Michelle Hand is excellent as Karen, bitter in her feelings toward Tom, and wondering how the breakup will affect not only their friendship, but her own marriage to Gabe.
Gary Wayne Barker directs with a sensitive hand, and though there are many amusing moments to be found along the way, this is primarily a drama. Jason Coale's changeable scenic design is smartly conceived and executed, allowing for quick transitions between scene locations. Jane Sullivan's costumes have the feel of reality, and Nathan Schroeder's lighting keeps the action in focus. Peggy Knock provides the many props that define these characters.
This solid and engaging production of Dinner with Friends by Dramatic License Productions continues through September 30, 2012.