By Maggie Casey & Traci Spacek
The Beloit College Theater Department presents “The Dining Room,” a 1981 play by A.R. Gurney. It was ﬁrst performed in New York City at the Studio Theatre of Playwrights Horizons and starred William H. Macy in one of his ﬁrst oﬀ-Broadway productions. It is currently being performed in the Neese Theater this weekend and next weekend. This production is the directorial debut of Assistant Professor of Theater John Kaufman and features Dana Bye ‘12, Miranda James ‘15, Alen Keric ‘14, Mike Kreiser ‘13, Sophie O’Connor ‘15, Matthew Alan Porter ‘12, Samantha Siegwald ‘14 and Benjamin Vogt ‘14.
The play is centered around a set of dining room furniture from 1898 that is passed on to diﬀerent families. The plot revolves around the tumultuous relationships within those families. The actors all play diﬀerent roles in each of the 17 separate scenes, including ﬁve-year-olds, stern parents, anthropology students, teenagers and more. The scenes detail either the emotional attachment to the furniture, or serve as a way to show the changes in family dynamics and traditions of the white, Anglican, upper middle class.
While the actors themselves don’t change, each one ﬂawlessly pulls oﬀ the challenge of creating both a unique vocal and physical life for their characters, suspending the audience’s disbelief throughout each new scene. Although it doesn’t hold a traditional theatrical structure, “The Dining Room” captures the audience’s attention from beginning to end thanks to the beautifully constructed set and the believability of the acting.