×

Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner

A Passover Seder dinner provides the premise for a free-swinging discussion of politics and religion, including the Middle East, in Lisa Loomer's often funny but frustratingly stereotype-laden attempt at reconciling some of humankind's most divisive issues.

With:
Myriam - Mimi Lieber
Jack - Lenny Wolpe
Nikki - Karen Pittman
Ginny - Catherine E. Coulson
Josh - John Hutton
Kimiko - Sala Iwamatsu
Rachelle - Shana Dowdeswell
Dan - Sam Gregory
Alice - Caitlin O'Connell
Mable - Sophia Espinosa
Lupe - Gabriella Cavallero
Sam - Nasser Faris
Christopher – Ben Morrow

A Passover Seder dinner provides the premise for a free-swinging discussion of politics and religion, including the Middle East, in Lisa Loomer’s often funny but frustratingly stereotype-laden attempt at reconciling some of humankind’s most divisive issues. Like the Last Supper, 13 disparate souls — in this case a diverse sampling of Los Angeles residents — gather to share views on freedom, oppression, slavery, and plagues. The ethnic smorgasbord serves up zingers for every palate.

In addition to the observant Jewish hosts, Myriam (Mimi Lieber) and Jack (Lenny Wolpe), the assembled melting pot includes an African American, a born-again Christian, a Buddhist, a Japanese American, an adopted Chinese American child, the Mexican help and a man of Lebanese descent. All the usual ethnic stereotypes, gender biases, religious prejudices and political reflexes get exercised but not exorcised, and therein lies the problem. We’ve heard all these arguments before; without new material, the discussion founders, despite Loomer’s larger intensions.

The bickering is a run up to the big question, which Loomer defines as Israel versus Palestine — as a political problem that began in 1948 between states, instead of a religious war that began nearly 1400 years earlier.

In the absence of an informed historical view, the arguments about the present slaughter paint an unbalanced picture, as if current circumstances had no antecedents including a long line of atrocities, claims of spiritual superiority on all sides and the unending cycle of violence between three religions.

After the play’s climactic blow up, ignited by unseen photos of mutilated children presented by one of the dinner guests, the gathering disperses, concluding with interplay between the principals. One decision drives a wedge between mother and daughter, while Loomer’s attempt at a reconciling denouement between Myriam and a dinner guest leaves the big questions hanging and the story without a catharsis.

The inter-religious aspect of this dinner table discussion never evolves past cliche, despite excellent production values, direction (Wendy C. Goldberg), and performances — particularly from Lieber, who must hold down the fort with some unnecessarily weak arguments.

Two Things You Don't Talk About at Dinner

Denver Center Theater Company, the Space Theater; 450 seats; $67 top

Production: A Denver Center Theatre Company world premiere of a play in two acts by Lisa Loomer. Directed by Wendy C. Goldberg.

Creative: Set, Kevin Depinet; costumes, Anne Kennedy; lighting, Charles R. MacLeod; sound and composition, Jason Ducat; Stage Manager, Rachel Ducat. Opened, reviewed Jan. 26, 2012. Running time: 1 HOUR, 55 MIN.

Cast: Myriam - Mimi Lieber
Jack - Lenny Wolpe
Nikki - Karen Pittman
Ginny - Catherine E. Coulson
Josh - John Hutton
Kimiko - Sala Iwamatsu
Rachelle - Shana Dowdeswell
Dan - Sam Gregory
Alice - Caitlin O'Connell
Mable - Sophia Espinosa
Lupe - Gabriella Cavallero
Sam - Nasser Faris
Christopher – Ben Morrow

More Legit

  • Three Sisters review

    London Theater Review: 'Three Sisters'

    Ennui has become exhaustion in playwright Cordelia Lynn’s new version of “Three Sisters.” The word recurs and recurs. Everyone on the Prozorov estate is worn out; too “overworked” to do anything but sit around idle. Are they killing time or is time killing them? Either way, a play often framed as a study of boredom [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Hillary and Clinton review

    Broadway Review: Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in 'Hillary and Clinton'

    If anyone could play Hillary Clinton, it’s Laurie Metcalf – and here she is, in Lucas Hnath’s “Hillary and Clinton,” giving a performance that feels painfully honest and true. And if anyone could capture Bill Clinton’s feckless but irresistible charm, that would be John Lithgow – and here he is, too. Who better to work [...]

  • Hadestown review

    Broadway Review: 'Hadestown'

    “Hadestown” triggered a lot of buzz when this wholly American show (which came to the stage by way of a concept album) premiered at Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Arriving on Broadway with its earthly delights more or less intact, this perfectly heavenly musical — with book, music and lyrics by Anaïs [...]

  • Burn This review

    Broadway Review: Adam Driver, Keri Russell in 'Burn This'

    The ache for an absent artist permeates Lanford Wilson’s “Burn This,” now receiving a finely-tuned Broadway revival that features incendiary performances by Adam Driver and Keri Russell, playing two lost souls in a powerful and passionate dance of denial. AIDS is never mentioned in this 1987 play, yet the epidemic and the profound grief that [...]

  • White Noise Suzan-Lori Parks

    Listen: The 'Dumb Joke' Hidden in 'White Noise'

    Suzan-Lori Parks’ new play “White Noise” tackles a host of urgent, hot-button topics, including racism and slavery — but, according to the playwright, there’s also a “dumb joke” buried in it. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Appearing with “White Noise” director Oskar Eustis on “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast, Parks revealed that the inspiration for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content