“Dinner With Friends“
Reviewer: Selina Chong
Performance: 5 August 2017
As part of Desert Wine’s Comfort Theatre Series, Donald Margulies’ Dinner with Friends was staged for two nights in August. Unfortunately, this was a dinner I would have been glad to sit out.
Firstly, the 7pm production was delayed due to technical problems. These were not resolved in time, and the dialogue kept cutting off whenever the microphones malfunctioned. Adding to the frustration is the fact the venue was cosy enough for the performers to go off-mic.
I am also disappointed in the one-dimensionality of the players in this production, since the work is known for how much its character discovers about themselves and each other as it goes on. The acting, too, leaves much to be desired. Matilda Chua’s over-the-top portrayal of the self-centred Karen is insufferable. In one terrifically awkward scene, Tushar Ismail’s Gabe and Aizuddiin Nasser’s Tom could not decide whether to greet each other with a handshake or a hug as they lunge towards each other in an uncoordinated fashion. There is little chemistry between the actors and it often feels like they are talking at each other, rather than to each other.
I was torn between feeling sorry and feeling embarrassed throughout the experience. On the one hand, it’s a pity that Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize winning play was not seen by more people; on the other, thank goodness it was just a handful of us who witnessed this hot mess.
While I encourage Desert Wine to continue pursuing their passion for theatre, I hope they will polish their skills so they can present the best of themselves onstage.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
DINNER WITH FRIENDS by Desert Wine
5 – 6 August 2017
The Grassroots’ Club
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Selina loves the theatre and its ability to engage, enrapture, and entertain. The magic of the stage never ceases to create joy and wonder for her. The potential of the theatre to educate also dovetails with her teacher duties and she wishes more young people had time to watch a show instead of attend another tuition lesson.