The play is set in the dining room of a typical well-to-do household, the place where the family assembled daily for breakfast and dinner and for any and all special occasions. The action is comprised of a mosaic of interrelated scenes--some funny, some touching, some rueful--which, taken together, create an in-depth portrait of a vanishing species, the upper-middle-class WASP. The actors change roles, personalities and ages with virtuoso skill as they portray a wide variety of characters, from little boys to stern grandfathers, and from giggling teenage girls to Irish housemaids. Each vignette introduces a new set of people and events: a father lectures his son on grammar and politics, a boy returns from boarding school to discover his mother's infidelity, a senile grandmother doesn't recognize her own son at Christmas dinner, and a daughter, her marriage a shambles, pleads futilely to return home. Dovetailing swiftly and smoothly, the varied scenes of The Dining Room coalesce into a theatrical experience of exceptional range, compassionate humor and abundant humanity.
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