Three Tables Review – Eavesdropping

Dennis Renard, Erick Stanton Betts, Laura Liguori, and Raquel Cain in THREE TABLES - Photo by Jenny Graham
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Penned by Murray Mednick, a pioneer of the off- and off-off Broadway movements in the 60s and 70s, THREE TABLES is Mednick’s latest work. Like all of Mednick’s work, THREE TABLES is a poetic, somewhat disjointed, and nearly impulsive story which delves into the inner workings of the minds of its characters. Relocating to Los Angeles from New York City, where he was playwright-in-residence for New York City’s Theater Genesis, Mednick founded and was the artistic director of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival from 1978 to 1995 – an innovative venue which had a powerful impact on American theater and nurtured the work of playwrights like Sam Shepard and John O’Keefe. Padua Playwrights presents the world premiere of THREE TABLES, a creative journey into the mazes of the mind, directed by the playwright himself.

Murray Menick on THREE TABLES set – Photo by Racquel Lehrman

To quote Guy Zimmerman of Padua Playwrights, “…Murray has always followed the artist’s creed to ‘make it new’…with “Three Tables” that…involves the capacity of everyday dinner-table conversation to reveal, through the musical interplay of thought, emotion, and embodiment, something refined about the human situation…musicality here has to do with timing, the aspects of dialogue that links Murray to the be-bop musicians…he listened to as a young man working in restaurants in the Catskills…for anyone who loves the fine art of theater, “Three Tables” is a feast.”

Richard Sabine and John Fantasia – Photo by Jenny Graham

On the surface, THREE TABLES is what its title suggests: three tables in a restaurant, each occupied by people living in their own worlds and hopping from topic to topic in their search for meaning and understanding. Conversations overlap and intertwine – but the eight people speaking don’t seem to be aware of the other tables – or even aware of the people sitting at their own tables. Conversational snippets include petty annoyances, sex, isolation, loneliness, and even reflections on Jewish history and anti-Semitism. Three people sit at each of two tables, all of whom are in some way involved in show business. At the foremost table sit Christen (Laura Liguori), Mike (Corey Rieger), and Rodger (Michael Uribes). Casey (Eric Stanton Betts), Margie (Raquel Cain), and Don (Dennis Renard) are at the second table. One table is reserved for the two waiters, Sol (Richard Sabine) and Joe (John Fantasia), who cater to their patron’s needs. As the conversation swirls through the air, it feels as if each person in the room is alone in a crowd.

Corey Rieger and Michael Uribes – Photo by Jenny Graham

Kudos to the ensemble actors, each of whom strikes a very personal and unique picture. And, of course, congratulations to Murray Mednick, who wrote THREE TABLES and also directs with a sure hand. Described as a dark comedy, THREE TABLES certainly lives up to its name. Joel Daavid’s scenic design, Shon LaBlanc’s costumes, Azra King-Abadi’s lighting, John Zalewski’s compositions and sound, and George McWilliams’ graphic design all contribute to the final production. For theater aficionados and historians, participating in a Mednick production is gold. For anyone who has felt lonely surrounded by lots of people, THREE TABLES offers some sage and comforting thoughts.

Richard Sabine, John Fantasia, Corey Rieger, Michael Uribes, and Laura Liguori – Photo by Jenny Graham

THREE TABLES runs through May 22, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Zephyr Theatre is located at 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, go online.

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