Book Report: Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies (1999)

Book coverDonald Margulies is my favorite modern playwright. I really enjoyed Sight Unseen both on stage and in print. Which makes it weird that it took me over a year to get to this book (bought in in January 2018) while I read lesser plays.

This book has four characters: Karen and Gabe, two married food writers, and Beth and Tom, friends that they introduced a dozen years ago whose marriage is ending. Beth reveals that Tom has cheated on her, and he cannot join them for dinner because he’s gone out of town to visit his mistress. The news shocks Karen and Gabe. Scenes center on meals where Beth or Tom eat at Karen and Gabe’s.

The emotions are pretty raw, and the play really evokes wondering what is happening off-stage as much as on. Karen and Gabe disagree over how to treat Tom after the break-up, and Tom touches Karen’s hair at one point, which leads one to wonder if something happened there. How strong is Karen and Gabe’s marriage? Can Beth and Tom reconcile while eventually destroying their friends’ marriage?

Very good, but not as good as Sight Unseen. Margulies has numerous other works, and one of these days I might start ordering them new instead of hoping to spot them at book sales in Springfield or Ozark.

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