By Shreeja Rajan
The Old Mill Theatre’s first production of 2014 is of the Pulitzer Prize winning ‘Dinner With Friends’, directed by the award winning and highly acclaimed Noel O’Neill. It is a meticulous and realistic assessment of the dynamics of divorce and the effects it has on the lives of those around the separating couple.
The story begins with Beth (portrayed by the excellent Maree Grayden) opening up to the serenely married Gabe and Karen about splitting up with her husband. Over the course of the play we see them at various stages of their lives; from the day the newly married Gabe and Karen introduced Beth to her future husband Tom, to a few months after their divorce when they have supposedly found bliss in new relationships. The range of emotions and situations that Gabe and Karen watch their friends go through makes them reflect over their own marriage and also their friendships with Beth and Tom.
While every cast members provides a fine, intense performance, the star of the show is Michael Dornan, who plays Gabe. He balances emotional gravity and comic relief remarkably. Phil Barnett and Laila Gampfer follow up their terrific performances in last year’s ‘No Exit’ with another amazing effort. Maree Grayden puts in an utterly convincing performance as the wronged wife-turned-liberated divorcee.
‘Dinner With Friends’ plays at 8pm, February 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 and March 1 with a 2pm matinee February 23 at the heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre in South Perth.