THE GIN GAME
October 30, 2015
The Pulitzer Prize winning Gin Game written in 1976 by D. L. Coburn doesn’t say much, and at the same time, it tells you plenty about growing old with vinegar and grace. Two actors, Cecily Tyson as Foglia Dorsey and James Earl Jones as Weller Martin masterfully tango around a budding friendship that reveals physical uncertainties and family conflicts.
Independent and strong willed, both people are uprooted from their homes and living in a senior residence. Uprooted from their homes, both timidly move towards a friendship that softens their evaporating footprints in society.
Feisty conversations over cutthroat games of “gin rummy” ring with the refrain “gin!” gleefully emitted by Foglia. As the encounters escalate, there’s serious concern Weller’s health. His foul-mouthed rants rack his body, making it look like skyrocketing blood pressure every single time (and it’s every time) Foglia blurts “gin!”
Two loners find a modicum of solace in each other’s company. Surly despite his apparent fondness for her, she worries over his intermittent absences. Like a cranky married couple the two poke each other’s weaknesses spilling a few drops of blood and then regretting the pecks.
Set on a mildly decrepit back porch designed by Riccardo Harnandez, this is a remarkable demonstration of two wise pros seamlessly extracting the play’s essence. They argue, they dance, they play cards and they are totally real.
Directed with style and simplicity by Leonard Foglia, “The Gin Game” is a poignant snapshot of aging people, aging parents, aging us.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis