Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 396

In an interview conducted shortly after Dinner with Friends received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in drama, Margulies mused that loss is a common theme in all of his plays. Earlier plays like Sight Unseen (pr. 1991, pb. 1992) and What’s Wrong with This Picture? (pr. 1985, pb. 1988) feature characters who struggle with lost values, lost love, or lost hope. Often this loss occurs within a tumultuous family unit, reflecting the author’s desire to find his father. More recently, Dinner with Friends and Collected Stories: A Play (pr. 1996, pb. 1998) focus deeply upon the impact of changing relationships among family and friends. While themes of loss and alienation within the family setting have been the focus of many of Margulies’s plays, Dinner with Friends is the first of his plays to explore both themes with such clarity. Certainly, The Loman Family Picnic (pr., pb. 1989) spins a wickedly absurd tale around a desperately unhappy family. However, Margulies’s approach in Dinner with Friends seems more seasoned, less anxious. In Dinner with Friends, Margulies speaks with the voice of middle age.

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Perhaps that maturing explains the play’s real resonance. Dinner with Friends takes the audience on a very personal, unpredictable journey through the soul of marital relationships and the interconnectedness that many postwar “Baby Boomers” feel with friends who seem closer than family. Margulies’s characters shimmer, not because they are articulate but because their motives and passions are complex. The audience’s perception of them shifts from scene to scene. In this respect, Dinner with...

(The entire section contains 396 words.)

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Critical Overview