The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

A two-act play, Dinner with Friends intertwines the lives of Gabe and Karen, food writers, and their close friends Tom and his wife Beth. Act 1 opens over dinner in Gabe and Karen’s kitchen on a snowy evening in Connecticut. Tom is away on business, and Beth sits quietly as Gabe and Karen animatedly describe their recent excursion to Italy. In between descriptions of the old Italian cook and her pasta pomodoro, and shouts from the children upstairs, the scene is one of warm, if somewhat fussy, banter about food and travel. Beth soon dissolves into tears and informs the distressed couple that her husband has had an affair and wants a divorce. The scene concludes as Beth prepares to leave, but not without sampling dessert.

The scene shifts to Tom and Beth’s cluttered bedroom, where Beth prepares for bed. Tom enters, apologizing for the intrusion. Beth confesses that she divulged their marital troubles. Furious, Tom accuses Beth of biasing their friends against him. Each angrily reminds the other of past injuries. The argument turns violent when Beth slaps Tom, and Tom throws Beth onto the bed, pinning her there. However, the violence arouses both, and the scene ends with lovemaking.

Later that evening snuggling on the sofa, Gabe and Karen discuss how Karen would have responded if Gabe had been unfaithful. Headlights appear through the window. Tom enters and asks for a fair hearing, but Karen refuses to listen and leaves the room. Over leftovers and wine, Gabe tries to offer advice, but Tom does not want it. “My head is spinning with shoulds and shouldn’ts,” says...

(The entire section is 659 words.)