"Dinner with Friends" shines a glaring light on relationship facades at Dramaworks

Review

"Dinner with Friends" shines a glaring light on relationship facades at Dramaworks

Feb 28 2011
Bill Hirschman | South Florida Theater Review

...Director J. Barry Lewis and a skilled ensemble bring Margulies' subversive nightmare into such blinding daylight that many couples will go home examining their own relationship... ...Dinner turns on the recognition that as nuclear families disintegrated during the 20th Century, dislocated young adults pieced together extended families far from home. Today, married couples enfold friends into relationships that are often closer than their ties with blood relations. ...The performances are superbly naturalistic; you never catch anyone acting. All four actors create people so recognizable that they might well be your neighbors. Ballard has the least showy of the roles which makes his work all the more impressive as he clings to the belief that you work through the rough spots in any relationship. Brown and Wilson convincingly depict their bewilderment and irritation that the couple who profess their devotion cannot support their decision to seek a satisfying future. But it's Schmidt who takes the prize with her perfection-obsessed, eternally chatty Karen who is unaware that she focuses on chopping up vegetables for dinner so that she can ignore the scream of inner demons... ...Lewis is one of the finest directors for intimate drama working in South Florida, possibly in regional theater, period. He consistently elicits nuanced performances that seemingly leave no crevice of the script unexplored or illustrated. His staging is so organic and naturalistic that only a trained theater professional can see his hand at work...