Northwest NEWS

May 8, 2000


'The Dining Room' mixes satire and humor

by Deborah Stone

   Currently running at Redwood Theatre, on the stage of the Redmond Senior Center, is A.R. Gurney's comedy The Dining Room. Directed by veteran company member Sue Bukovinsky, The Dining Room is a well-crafted production, which focuses on the abilities of its actors to portray different characters each time they appear on stage.

   The show uses an upper middle class dining room as the location for vignettes dealing with American WASP culture, social attitude, and personal relationships. The scenes provide a mix of satire, humor, and poignant emotion that keeps audience interest level high.

   In one playlet, a crusty elderly father (Jack Dutt) gives his son (Paul Pedersen) specific instructions for his funeral arrangements, while in another, a desperate and unhappy daughter (Laura Drevecky) whose marriage has collapsed begs her distant and unemotional father (Dutt) for temporary refuge and a chance to begin life anew. There is the over-the-top satirical sketch of the college student (Simon Hamlin) interviewing his rich aunt (Destiny Boegelsack) for his term paper about "the eating habits of vanishing cultures," and the hilarious Thanksgiving dinner with a senile Grandma (Destiny Boegelsack).

   In another scene, a small boy (Hamlin) becomes hysterical when the family maid (Kimberly Pfeifer) tells him that she is about to leave the household to get married. He is sure that she will have children of her own whom she will love more than she does him.

   A series of servants set the table, pass dishes of food, and respond to the comments of their masters and mistresses, as the years pass and the dining room becomes less the center of family life.

   Buckovinsky allows her actors to explore the dining room as a place to make memories and encourages the audience to reflect on their own "dining room moments." The talented ensemble is full of energy and possesses good comedic timing, as well as the ability to make quick character transitions.

   "I directed this play ten years ago for Redwood," says Buckovinsky, "and basically stayed consistent with the playwright's suggestions to cast three men and three women for all the roles. I also kept the set and costuming simple, which forces the actors to work at portraying different characters through their acting and not depend on crutches to communicate to the audience. I really feel that this play showcases the actors and that they did their job well. They took hold of this play from the beginning and relished the challenge."

   The Dining Room runs through May 13. For information, call 206-525-3493.