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The Dining Room

A.R. Gurney's engaging, bittersweet 1982 play details life in a dining room — or, rather, several dining rooms — inhabited by a multitude of characters. Short, overlapping vignettes transpire around a dining room table: a birthday party, illicit meetings, student projects and, of course, family gatherings. Most of the bits present snapshots of family dynamics stressing the universality of what happens around a table, despite the WASPy leanings of the material. With minimal costume changes, the actors use vocal mannerisms to carve out distinct characters, often with physical transformations to suggest age and vitality. Particularly memorable vignettes include an architect trying to convince a psychiatrist to tear down the walls of the dining room to make an office; two teenagers drinking gin mixed with vodka and Fresca; a Thanksgiving dinner interrupted by a mentally failing matriarch; and a student filming an old-fashioned aunt for an anthropology class. The events take place on Vandy Scoates' expansive, well-appointed set, and the six actors (Matthew Ashford, Mimi Cozzens, Robert Briscoe Evans, James Greene, Tracy Powell and Amanda Tepe) all demonstrate colorful versatility. Kay Cole's fluid direction is most in evidence when vignettes overlap one another without distracting the audience from the dialogue. Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. thru Feb. 15. (818) 765-8732. An Interact Theatre Company production.
Sat., Jan. 17; Sundays, 4 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 17. Continues through March 1, 2009


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