Jeremy M. Thomas

Stage Director

CphCulture gives The Dining Room ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Posted on 05 May 2014 in House of International Theatre, News | Comments Off on CphCulture gives The Dining Room ★★★★★ (5 stars)

The original Danish version can be found at: http://cphculture.dk/p222thediningroom.html

The Dining Room (from CPHCULTURE.dk). 5 stars out of 6.

The CTC raises their ambitions with their production of A.R.Gurney’s The Dining Room.

In Denmark, A.R.Gurney is best known for several succesful stagings of “Love Letters” – not least the legendary staging with Bodil Kjer and Ebbe Rode. The Dining Room was played at Betty Nansen Theatre about 30 years ago, and it confirms what a fine dramatist Gurney is, if you take your time to bring out the nuances in the text. And happily this is what the young director Jeremy Thomas-Poulsen has accomplished.

The actors are placed on chairs with their backs to the wall, similar to Staffan Valdemar Holms staging of Richard III at the Royal Theatre a couple of years ago. They can quickly step into the stage area and with simple effects establish a dining room.

The furniture is suspended over the actors, but we don’t miss it on stage because of the elegant solutions Jeremy Thomas-Poulsen and the actors have devised in cooperation.

It’s a pity that the program doesn’t show which actors play what roles, as several of the actors deserve to be highlighted. For example Vanessa Poole, who with equal ease plays a little girl and an old, senile lady. Musically, Sebastian Bagot contributes  to the performance with his varied guitar playing and his polite acting fashion that suits Gurney’s melancholic goodbye to old ways and customs.

Most beautiful is the scene towards the end, where the old father informs his son about the plans for his funeral. Frank Theakston is here given the opportunity to show what a fine actor he can be in the right circumstance. Towards the end it is also a tribute to the director that he manages to transform the exuberant Caroline Stampone into an aging servant maid.

So even though The Dining Room is about the decay of social mores, the CTC production strikes an encouraging note, and makes us believe that a praiseworthy theatre organisation like the CTC still has a role to play in the future.