At the Table: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Cross talk abounds in Michael Perlman’s At the Table. Four college friends, now in their early thirties—a black woman and three white men, one of whom is gay—gather for a weekend in the country, with new friends and lovers in tow. House rules dictate that they can’t use their phones (except for the straight guy whose family owns the place), so they joke and play games and debate social issues. In their often amusing banter, lubed with booze and pot, the play delves cannily and suggestively into key questions of our cultural moment: Who gets to speak, and for whom but ourselves are we speaking?
Though their retreat may be brief, these folks have brought plenty of baggage, which Perlman (From White Plains) unpacks with care. Staged in the round, in long scenes that zigzag with overlapping dialogue, At the Table has an unbuttoned ’70s-film naturalism. The audience is so close to the action that the play almost feels immersive, and the eight actors are commendably believable as they talk over and around each other. (Craig Wesley Divino, Ben Mehl and the remarkable Rachel Christopher make especially strong impressions.) The result is an absorbing Chekhovian issue play, in which points of privilege are gently pressed, and the political and personal are revealed to be in a fraught long-term relationship.—Adam Feldman
HERE (Off-Off Broadway). Written and directed by Michael Perlman. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 25mins. One intermission.
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