[ON STAGE]Feuds and Foibles at Dinner

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[ON STAGE]Feuds and Foibles at Dinner

Family dining can be a pleasurable occasion for some people. For others, it can be a start of a night-long dispute accompanied by long silences and fear of what will unfold. It's a paradox, but the dining room is both a place of comfort and also the place where family grievances are aired.

In that sense the play "Dining Room," which opened last week in Daehak-ro, is a perfect metaphor for depicting a family in crisis. Based on the original script by A.R Gurney Jr., who has also written culturally specific works like "Scenes from American Life" and "Love in Buffalo," the play is a poignant reflection of an American middle-class family riddled with alienation despite its stability.

Through several episodes, the play depicts a series of eccentric characters and the events that occur in their dining rooms in the style of a black comedy.

Elly, Howard's wife, has a habit of writing her academic reports in her dining room with her loud typewriter placed on top of the dining table. Nick, a teenage boy who is about go to a prestigious boarding school, visits his grandfather's house to ask him for money, but the old man goes on to air his own complaints about his family members. Tommy, who visits his aunt's dining room to take photographs of her antique furniture for his anthropology class assignment, gets into fight with her because he expresses greater interest in her fancy tableware.

It is easy to compare a Korean middle class family to the families in this American play. The characters, who express a fascination with classic Hollywood films, show a fine parallel with the Korean audiences who identified with the film "Chingu" for its nostalgic imagery.

By overlapping the stories of different families, the play raises questions about alienation and the failure of communication in the contemporary home. To add another dimension to the play, its producer, Choi Hyung-in, cast television comedians to depict the tragic reality of the play onstage.

Organized by the Hanyang Repertoire, who also produced "Love Letter" by Mr. Gurney, the play presents a panoramic style of narration and is rather unconventional in that it does not present a notable climax or resolution.

For more information call, 02-762-0010 (Korean service only).

by Park Soo-mee

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