Sit Down with COD’s Latest Theater Production

COD Theater’s production of The Dining Room is a great evening out and worth the trip to see.

Bee Bishop, Staff Writer

Provided by COD Theatre Department
Pictured: Actors Alyson Meyers (far left); Nicholas Washington (center left); Monica Rosales (center right); Lilly Zuniga (far right)

COD’s latest theater endeavor is a production of A. R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room.” The plot follows people throughout multiple decades in dining rooms across America in a collection of vignettes. The set doesn’t change, so the audience is really reliant on the actors to portray each event to their fullest ability with the small assistance of a costume change. 

Olivia Reamer, an actor in the show, said the set is just the backdrop to the more important aspects of the performance.

“It’s not so much about the physical dining room itself,” Reamer said. “It’s more about the people in the dining room and the different things they’re going through.”

If that sounds like a confusing premise, that’s because it kind of is. First-time viewers may find themselves a bit lost at the beginning of the show. However, actor Nicholas Washington said this hazy interpretation of events is intentional.

“It actually has a dream effect,” Washington said. “Without saying too much, it gives you a way into a person’s mind, and you kind of watch people as they navigate through their lives kind of going back and forth. You wonder what happens to them after they leave, but you don’t get the rest of the story.”

 Director Connie Canaday Howard and the rest of the cast used this to their full advantage. Everything from the set design to how the characters are dressed plays into this surreal experience as the audience watches each scene unfold. The progression of the play is nonlinear in fashion, meaning one scene may be set in the late 1970s and is overlapped by a scene taking place in the early 1930s. 

Characters will occupy the stage together but blatantly ignore each other because they just aren’t a part of the same story. The easiest way to note which characters are supposed to be interacting is by the costumes the actors are wearing. Everything from the style to the colors play into grouping characters and experiences together. 

Additionally, the cast only has nine actors but over 60 parts, meaning everyone had to double up in roles, taking on characters much older and younger than they are. Actor Luke Hernandez said that was a pleasant challenge.

“It’s very fun to play all these different roles and ages and change my body and what I do,” Hernandez said. “It’s like a tour de force of the actor.”

Though the concept may seem confusing, the cast and crew pull the show off spectacularly.

Provide by COD Theatre department
Pictured: Actors Monica Rosales (left) and Elmeka Elme (right)

Scenes are lively and heartfelt, and the way the characters interact is charming and realistic. 

Actor Elmeka Elme said that was the greatest strength of the production.

“I think anyone who’s coming to the play is going to relate to at least one scene of the play,” Elme said. “In a way, I feel like people should come see this production, besides having something to be interested in, it will give you a moment of pause to consider your family life and what’s going around you.”

“The Dining Room” opened Feb. 24 and will run until March 13. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors. As of Feb. 28, masks are optional in the theater, but proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken recently are still required for admittance. More information about the McAninch Arts Center COVID-19 policy can be found here.