Posted in also a film, based on a film, Dan LeFranc, dinner, Donald Marguiles, family drama, Festen, Jan Maxwell, John Lithgow, Neil Simon, Playwrights Horizons, The Music Box



via Daily Prompt: Disrupt List making is a habit. I have had a very hard time breaking myself of a disposition to compile and aggregate. There are times when the combinations on any given catalog serves to disrupt the order of things. Relationships can be tangential and serendipitous rather than strictly straightforward. This enumeration, for […]

Around the table in The Big Meal: David Wilson Barnes, Jennifer Mudge, Anita Gilette, Tom Bloom, Rachel Resheff. Photo by Joan Marcus.

via To throw ’em off the scent — Commenting:

This enumeration, for instance, pairs or doubles down on, very diverse films, yet there is a connection:

Add to this some other films and plays like The Big MealDinner for Shmucks or The Dinner Party (on Broadway in 2000 with Henry Winkler and the late Jan Maxwell and John Ritter et al) or the short-lived Festen, (also on Broadway and also at the Music Box) with Ali McGraw. The latter as I recall was a dark (both in lighting and atmosphere) play which, again, as I recall, was extremely interesting; it lasted just 49 performances.


Posted in Allen Moyer, Darren Pettie, domestic drama, Donald Marguiles, Heather Burns, Jeremy Shamos, Marin Hinkle, Pam McKinnon, Pulitzer Prize winning play, revival

How well do we know even our closest friends?

Domesticity can make for a very dull subject.

In Donald Marguiles’ Pulitzer Prize winning play,  in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival, at Laura Pels Theatre through April 13th,“Dinner With Friends,” it is laced with the spice of infidelity.

Beth (Heather Burns) spills her misery to her old friend Karen (Marin Hinkle) and her husband’s best friend Gabe (Jeremy Shamos) even before the dessert is served. Tom’s (Darren Pettie) absence from this regular gathering is actually due to his going to see his girlfriend, and not because he is off on another business trip.

When his travel plans are snowed out, Tom returns home to discover that Beth told Gabe and Karen that he wanted a divorce. Late as it is, Tom drives over to to set the record straight with Karen and Gabe, who feel betrayed by the dissolution of Beth and Tom’s marriage.

Gabe and Karen had fixed Beth and Tom up, spent vacations with them and their kids together over the years. While Beth was clearly blind-sided, they were the last to know. Beth muses,  “He was moody. Yes. Distracted. I thought it was work. Or jet lag…” Tom tells Gabe he has never been happier than he has since his marriage ended. He doesn’t want therapy, or need advice.

“Dinner With Friends” tells a simple tale of four friends, two couples, each looking to keep passion alive or rekindle it, despite the grind of the day to day domesticity of their lives.

As Tom, Darren Pettie manifests an appropriately defensive menace. He is the the bullying poster boy for leaving your wife. When Tom tells Gabe about his new girlfriend, he sounds as if he is proselytizing: “She saved my life, Gabe. She really did; she breathed life back into me ” His enthusiasm for the new is like a slap at the friendship he and Gabe have shared.

Jeremy Shamos has the gift of likability that make his Gabe vulnerable and approachable. He is a content with the life he’s chosen: “We’ve all made sacrifices to our kids. It’s the price you pay for having a family,” he tells Tom.

Under Pam MacKinnon’s direction, the ensemble breathes fresh life into this ordinary story. Heather Burns plays Beth as both put-upon and manipulative. The subtlety in her characterization contrasts with Marrin Hinkle’s straightforward portrayal of the judgemental and down-to-earth Beth.

“Dinner With Friends” covers the twelve plus years of marriages and friendships with ease and panache. The attractive sets, designed by Allen Moyer, travel through the many locales “Dinner With Friends” inhabits, from Martha’s Vineyard to rooms in the protoganists’ homes.

If you have seen the 2001 Emmy-nominated film version or the original 1999 production, you will find this one charmingly done and nicely staged. (Need more opinion? Check out TB review on

To learn more about “Dinner With Friends,” please visit

Posted in Diane Davis, Donald Marguiles, Florida retirement, holocaust survivors, Hubert Point-du Jour, Kathryn Grody, Mark Blum, Primary Stages

No escape in "The Model Apartment"


Escape by definiion involves running away.

In Donald Marguiles’ “The Model Apartment,” two Holocaust survivors are fleeing the very present horror in their lives by retiring to

Max (Mark Blum) and Lola (Kathryn Grody) move to their condo ahead of schedule. Since their apartment is not yet ready, they’re given the keys to “The Model Apartment.” 

There end all reasonable expectations of who and why.

In short order, Max and Lola’s daughter, Debby (Diane Davis) follows them from Brooklyn and terrorizes them.

Debby has absorbed all their Holocaust nightmares and memories in her idiot-savant brain.

Kathryn Gordy and Mark Blum in the Primary Stages production
of The Model Apartment © 2013 James Leynse.

Rounding out the cast is Hubert Point-du Jour, with a finessed portrayal of Debby’s dim-witted boyfriend.

Mark Blum’s Max stumbles through pain and denial while Kathryn Grody’s Lola suffers her anguish poignantly.  In a fine small ensemble, Diane Davis stands out as the cruelly mangled Debby.

 Diane Davis and Kathryn Grody in the Primary Stages
of The Model Apartment © 2013 James Leynse.

“The Model Apartment” turns out to be more of an “American Horror Story” than its frothy first act suggests. Lauren Halpern’s nicely detailed set exudes the false luxury that undermines Max and Lola’s journey as well. Under the guiding hand of director Evan Cabnet, the build and reveal in this fine new play are well-delivered.

For more information on “The Model Apartment,” please visit either or