rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 04/30/2008
Six Actors, 57 Characters = The Dining Room
by Press Release

A.R. Gurney’s The Dining Room is full to overflowing with mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sulky teens, wildly excited small children, carpenters, architects, stressed-out wives, aristocrats, servants and addled grandparents. And all 57 of these people are played by just six actors in a series of scenes that range from the 1930s to the present. Every scene takes place, of course, in a dining room.

Artists’ Ensemble Theater closes their fourth season of professional theater with The Dining Room, performed May 9–25 in the Cheek Theatre at Rockford College.

“Gurney broke every rule of the classic well-made play with The Dining Room,” says director Richard Raether. “There is no clear protagonist, no central conflict, no big climax and
yet… this play is a delight. Scene builds upon scene, until the audience find itself pitying rich old men who play golf and women named Binkie.”

Gurney is, of course, writing about the world in which he grew up. As he put it, “I found myself writing this strange play which kept wanting to take place in a dining room… the room where my parents used to give sparkling dinner parties, the laughter from which I could hear echoing up the stairs long after I had shaken hands and been sent to bed…”

This unconventional play about very conventional people was greeted with kudos by critics. “Hilarious and touching as comic sketch crazily succeeds comic sketch,” raved the New York Post. AE has a terrific cast to gather around the table in this dining room: Stephen F. Vrtol III, Linda Abronski, Lydia Berger, David Gingerich, Michael Harold, and Erin Spears-Rizvi are the six actors who tackle the challenges of this comedy of manners. Audiences will long to linger in this dining room.

The Dining Room performs May 9–25. Performances are Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $26, $24 for seniors, $10 for students and are available through the AE box office at 815-394-5004.

Artists’ Ensemble is an Equity professional theater performing in residence at Rockford College.

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