William J Geery Theater2130 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
The newest Sacramento theater company, Kookaburra Productions, debuts with an original romantic comedy written and directed by Sandy Richard, The Dinner. Todd (Shawn B. O’Neal) and Kevin (Richard Spierto), a long-term couple, are trying to set up their friend Chris (played by Richard opening weekend; Allyn Pharo is cast for the rest of the run) with Lauren (Mary Bond), a co-worker of Todd’s. The problem is that Chris really isn’t over her breakup with Amy (Sandra Whitney), who’s now dating a younger, stranger, hipper deejay (Savannah Knight). When Amy and her new amour show up unexpectedly, trouble follows.
Richards’ script is full of one-liners and snappy comebacks, if a bit too topical in places. The best moments are when the characters embrace their broadly drawn stereotypes: trendy Todd, nerdy Kevin, obsessive Chris, romantic Amy. O’Neal is a hoot, and his chemistry with Spierto incorporates such gentle teasing that it’s easy to believe in a two-decade-long relationship. As blind date Lauren, Bond is hilarious, slowly revealing the sensitive, knowing persona beneath the giggly good-time girl. That’s important, because the outcome of the evening rests on her shoulders.
The Dinner hits its mark in terms of both laughs and production values. Even better, the production is a benefit for the Sacramento chapter of Marriage Equality USA, a move to ensure that all people get both romance and laughs with the spouse of their choice.