Stage Review

Omnium Gatherum (2003)

EW's GRADE
C+

Details Opening Date: Sep 25, 2003; Writers: Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, Theresa Rebeck; Director: Will Frears

The title means a miscellaneous collection, and that's what playwrights Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros have crafted. By turns a brittle comedy, existential drama, and paean to haute cuisine, ''Omnium'' gathers assorted stereotypes -- a conservative Tom Clancyish writer, a Martha Stewart-like hostess, et cetera -- at a post-9/11 dinner party where they, inevitably, clash and burn. (Think Sartre's ''No Exit,'' but with better food.) There's a lot of holier-than-thou ranting -- Israel, Iraq, even The New York Times gets taken apart. But it's the rarer, quiet moments that ring true: two men sharing a toast; an improbable ode to creme brulee; a dim-witted fireman recalling with disarming eloquence the day ''death came down on all of us.'' After that, the histrionics seem superfluous.

Originally posted Oct 24, 2003 Published in issue #734 Oct 24, 2003 Order article reprints