Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Dinner For Two / Cena Para Dos

Santiago Moncata, translated by Charles Philip Thomas
Puerto Rican Travelling Theatre
New York City
(2008)

Production photo

Our former Edinburgh reviewer, Rachel Lynn Brody, has moved back to the United States and is now giving us the occasional taste of US theatre.

Dinner for Two is an utterly delightful farce-with-feeling, without a hair out of place.

Christina Gould's set is the first captivating thing one encounters upon entering the theatre: bold, blocky colors that give us a clear expectation of the woman who lives in this upper west side flat. Within moments Jezabel Montero (Berta) and Angelica Ayala (Emi) have burst in, with Emi helping her more worldly friend prepare for a date with an old lover she ran into earlier.

These two bounce off one another like only old, close friends can, discussing relationships, marriages and men - in particular, Emi's husband, whom she's been faithful to since before his death, fifteen years prior.

When a second suitor calls Berta away from her preparations, she encourages Emi to take over her date - and after some revelations and champagne, Emi agrees. But nothing goes quite to plan, and soon Emi finds herself not with Berta's dentist, but the dentist's cousin Pedro (Fred Valle). As Pedro and Emi negotiate the complexities of trying to have a carefree, youthful fling when one is anything but carefree and youthful, the real tenderness in Moncada's play (translated superbly by Charles Philip Thomas) begins to shine out.

The result is a tender, fierce, and overwhelmingly joyous ride for the audience. Performed on alternate nights in English or Spanish (I should note that it was the English production which I attended) this is an extraordinarily strong show with great pace and a bold heart, and, as someone with many years to go before I find myself in positions similar to Berta, Emi or Pedro, I truly appreciated this welcoming glimpse into what life may offer me thirty or forty years down the line.

Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody