REVIEW: DINNER WITH FRIENDS @ GOLDEN GOOSE THEATRE
🎭 Dinner With Friends
📍 Golden Goose Theatre, 146 Camberwell New Road, Camberwell, London, SE5 0RR
🗓 Tuesday 23rd November 2022
HONEST AND BELIEVABLE
Dinner With Friends tells the story of two couples with a close friendship and explores what happens to the dynamics of the entire group when one of those couples get divorced.
Written by Donald Margulies, the play opens in Karen and Gabe's home where they have cooked yet another sublime meal for their friend Beth. Beth's husband Tom couldn't join as he was heading out of town on business.
After all the usual formalities, eating, drinking, story telling and interruptions from the children, Beth suddenly breaks down and announces to the group that Tom is leaving her after 12 years together.
This sends shockwaves through Karen and Gabe and the entire first act takes place over this one night. We see Tom return home after his flight was grounded, a huge argument between him and Beth and him turning up late to Karen and Gabe's house to explain his actions.
Act 2 opens with a flashback scene and we discover that it was Karen and Gabe who first introduced the now feuding couple and we then fast forward to after the dust has settled and both Tom and Beth are happy in new relationships. This is good for them, but the once fruitful friendship that existed with Karen and Gabe is now long gone.
Julia Papp exudes raw emotion as the broken Beth. She really draws you in with her emotional performance. Her argument with Kim Hardy as Tom is so realistic that you almost feel uncomfortable watching it because it's like you're in the room with two of your best friends while they're tearing into each other.
This makes for exceptional theatre in my opinion, because theatre shouldn't just be safe and fluffy. Feeling uncomfortable means you're fully engaged in the production, and the intimacy of the venue encourages you to become invested in the characters.
As Tom opens up throughout the play as to his reasons for breaking up the marriage, Hardy displays unwavering sensitivity and I actually think his character is my favourite.
Helen Rose Hampton as Karen is so angry with Tom for what he has done. Although at times she comes across as judgmental, Hampton also displays fear and love with utter conviction.
Jason Wilson completes tre cast as Gabe. I love his transitions between elaborate storyteller, to supportive friend and fearful husband. Wilson's final scene with Hardy is heartbreaking to witness because you see him morning the friendship they once had.
This production is a true masterclass of performance. Not once did any of the actors lose focus or break character. When you're in a space and completely forget you're watching a play, you know you're witnessing something special.
The set was simple and ingenious as pieces became different things throughout. One minute a kitchen counter, then a chair or a bed! The cast moved the set between each scene and in the first half we get what can only be described as the sexiest scene change I have ever witnessed!
Overall, this is a fantastic production, brought to the stage by Front Foot Theatre. It was a shame that there were a few empty seats because the quality of acting alone deserves sell-out performances.
Dinner With Friends continues at Golden Goose Theatre until Saturday 26th November, so there's not long to catch it. Head to www.goldengoosetheatre.com to check availability and book tickets.
I promise you won't be disappointed.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.
My tickets for this performance were gifted by Front Foot Theatre who invited me to review the show.