Dinner at Eight
The infrastructure of this 1932 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber wheezer is so painfully visible you could be looking at an erector set. First act: Set up the characters. Second act: Unveil the conflicting plotlines. Third act: Deliver the humorous complications, the tragic consequences, and the tidy settling of all other associated hash. But it’s not always so bad to know what’s coming, especially when it’s in a show as capably staged, gloriously decorated (seven luxurious sets, countless ravishing costumes), and expertly acted (by vets Marian Seldes, Emily Skinner, and Joe Grifasi, among others) as this one. The Depression-proof upper classes of the 1930s have never looked so good or seemed quite this desperate. It’s a shame that it’s not a better play.