The Dining Room  Review Pic

Jeff Lillico (centre) insists family honour is compromised when an uncle’s lifestyle is called into question at the club.  Sarah Wilson and Brenda Robins (left) listen carefully to what will happen next as Diego Matamoras and Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster (right) worry about the head of the house getting ‘seriously hurt’ in the aftermath.

A Heap of Heart and a Side of Soul

Different rooms in different houses have traditionally served different purposes throughout the generations.  However, few will argue that the dining room has proven to be a universal gathering place for ideas to be exchanged, matters to be resolved and truths to be understood.

And when a half dozen quick change artists take on more than fifty graceful roles, you just know Soulpepper Theatre Company means business with playwright A.R. Gurney’s historically significant community review.

Director Joseph Ziegler’s steady drama is served with a heap of heart and a side of soul in many of the overlapping scenes as family values echo radiantly from both the past and present.

Yet little transpires throughout the culturally enriched portraits.   Instead, The Dining Room asks if dematerializing culture is the result of changing times.

One of the most memorable scenes involves a grandson wanting to broaden his horizons by attending boarding school.  This can’t happen unless a financially secure grandfather cuts him a cheque with actors Jeff Lillico and Diego Matamoras walking a fine line between expectations and responsibility.

In another, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster shines in an uncomfortable homecoming moment as she delivers the news that her marriage has come to an end with additional details making the situation ‘extremely complicated.’

Millenials won’t find a lot happening here but boomers are left smiling by this stroll down memory lane when life, for the most part, was set at a vastly different pace.

Review by Jonathan O’Neil

THE DINING ROOM by A.R. Gurney Feb. 7 – Mar. 7, 2015 YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto TICKETS $37.00 – $89.00 www.soulpepper.ca 416-866-8666 CAST Derek Boyes, Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster, Jeff Lillico, Diego Matamoros, Brenda Robins, Sarah Wilson DIRECTOR Joseph Ziegler SET AND COSTUMES Robin Fisher LIGHTING Ken MacKenzie SOUND Richard Feren STAGE MANAGERS Kate Porter and Darragh Parsons

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