‘The Dinner Party’ is a bowl of laughs
When it comes to comedy, it’s hard to top Neil Simon. From “The Odd Couple” to “The Goodbye Girl,” it’s difficult to find stories with more empathy for the characters.
One of Simon’s lesser-known works is “The Dinner Party.” A relatively new group to the Historic Everett Theatre called the Outcast Players has taken on the challenge of bringing this material to life.
“The Dinner Party” opens in France in a fancy restaurant. Six guests are due to arrive shortly. None of them know the purpose of the invitation.
The person that apparently sent the invitations is many of the guests’ divorce attorney. One by one the guests arrive, and it soon becomes obvious the absent and enigmatic host has invited their ex-spouses!
There is Claude who is a failed writer and his ex, Mariette, who became published after he taught her everything he knows. There’s the genial Albert who seems eager to please, but is deeply wound by his two divorces to the same woman.
There’s Yvonne who wants to clear the air with Albert. He hasn’t spoken to her in ages. Then there’s Andre who believes he is the exception to the theme since his ex-wife is dead (or so he claims). And there is Gabrielle who has a rather mysterious past with one of the guests.
For better or worse, this will be an evening to either make amends or at least get closure for all of the couples. Material like this can be very tricky, but the cast is up to the challenge.
Mike Conway plays the egotistical Claude who wanted his wife’s success for his own. That hurt infiltrated their marriage and evidently led to their divorce.
The very stressed and put-upon Mariette played by Iris Lilly. Her character had the misfortune to be formerly involved with TWO of the guests. When she isn’t busy being an actress, Lilly is involved in teaching and politics.
Ric Calhoun is newest to acting, but rises to the challenge. His Albert is kind, loving and just a bit overbearing. Hopefully we’ll see him again at Historic Everett.
The role of Yvonne goes to Laura Shriner, who has performed in Monroe and Mukilteo. Yvonne is the kind of person who can’t make up her mind about her life, but doesn’t wish to offend.
Her husband, Curt Shriner, not only portrays the discontented Andre, he is also the director. He does a good job of both. He is also a founding member of the Outcast Players.
Lorraine “Sam” Samano plays the seemingly free spirit Gabrielle. Her character’s pairing might be the hardest. At first she seems so take charge, but immediately becomes putty at the hands of her former partner.
Whether you’re single, married, divorced or widowed, you should see this play. Audience members will get a night of laughs, angst and probably sparked discussion afterward. Don’t miss it.
“The Dinner Party” is playing at the Historic Everett Theatre through Jan. 20. For ticket information call 425-258-6766.