Opening this week is The Dinner Party, a one act play by Neil Simon. Its’ world premier was in Los Angeles in 1999 and it ran on Broadway for 364 performances.
The play opens on a spare set containing a bar, a couch and a table elaborately set for dinner for six. Six people have been invited to a dinner party at a popular Parisian restaurant by a trusted friend, but they know nothing about who else will be attending or why they have been invited. The action builds from this simple beginning.
The first part of the action is farcical, with doors slamming, people listening behind doors and a rapid fire of one liners. But it turns out that there is a serious purpose behind this party.
The Dinner Party is a late work by award winning playwright Neil Simon who passed away in August 2018. His early works were not critical successes, but were very popular. Later with works like The Odd Couple and Lost in Yonkers, he garnered many Tonys and Oscars. Much married (five times) his plays tend to revolve around family trials and the interplay between couples. He is able to bring humor to even serious situations. He once said, “My view is, "how sad and funny life is." I can't think of a humorous situation that does not involve some pain. I used to ask, "What is a funny situation?" Now I ask, "What is a sad situation and how can I tell it humorously?”
This PCA production is most definitely an ensemble effort. The six characters, Albert (Mike Been), Claude (Ron Lunt), Andre (Paul Epoch), Mariette (Marissa Ellis), Yvonne (Candi Ford Snow), and Gabrielle (Bliss Streetman) have to execute a complicated action, moving seamlessly from one grouping to another while making every move seem logical. They do a very good job.
Each actor inhabits their character totally. They are able to portray complex individuals while maintaining a good pace and flow.
The play is ably directed by Parker Anderson who says, “It is a very funny and moving show, and we hope you will enjoy it tremendously.
As usual at PCA, the crew, from lighting and sets to costumes and makeup, is spot on.
The Dinner Party runs from Oct 18-28 on the Main Stage. All performances are at 7:00 PM except Sundays which are at 2:00 PM. Ticket prices range from $17 to $22.