Theater: Decline of the Wasp

THE DINING ROOM by A.R. Gurney Jr.

Almost never does a U.S. playwright deal with bloodlines, class lines and cultural totems and taboos. That is what makes A.R. Gurney Jr.'s drama something of a novelty. It is not a play, properly speaking, but a series of vignettes, almost like revue sketches, set in Northeastern Wasp territory, where the inhabitants go to Ivy League schools, often possess inherited wealth and hold their opinions in their obdurate spines.

The Dining Room might be subtitled The Decline of the Wasp, except that it is clear-eyed, touching and buoyantly funny. The stage set itself is something of...

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