Theatre Spoken Here Review – SUNDAY DINNER a “perceptive dramedy”

In my teens I lived for two years with an Italian family in Brooklyn, and this delightful play made me feel right at home again. Not that family secrets and bitter confrontations didn’t happen in my own Irish environment, but the style was different.

This perceptive dramedy explores how one group deals with their secret shames when a young priest, the apple of his mother’s eye and the respected confidant of his father, returns home for a visit that lifts the lid off too many long-suppressed secrets.

Playwright-director Tony Blake explores how we each have the right to speak and be heard, but are we willing to risk the consequences.
One character’s ironic, “The truth shall set you free!” is soon demonstrated to be perhaps the greatest hurt of all. Once known we can never go back, and the final revelation shows how the truth can actually be a dagger in one’s heart. But, as Blake makes clear, it must finally be spoken.

As the matriarch, Sharron Shayne is a gentle spirit who one and all want to protect; and as paterfamilias John Combs is a blustering dad who believes family always comes first no matter the consequences. James Tabeek, as their Son the Priest, demonstrates the conflict between protection, the truth, and standing on principle.

Also excellent are Michele Schultz as the fierce maiden aunt; Kevin Linehan as the bossy older brother; Meghan Lloyd as the plaintive sister-in-law, and Dennis Hadley as the jovial but hurting cousin. You have to see the play yourself, since to describe the amusing, if sometimes tragic conflicts, would give it all away. Go and discover it.

The impressive set by Jeff G. Rank, and eclectic costumes by Michéle Young, pull you into this realistic Bronx-family world. Produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40.