Monday, August 12, 2013


Kenny Rogers is famous for singing "You have to know when to hold. Know when to fold them," referring to a game of poker.  The idea of strategy and determining which cards to keep and which to discard can apply to gin rummy just as well.  The same rules of the game can also apply to life.

Playwright Donald L. Coburn fashioned himself a two character play "The Gin Game" that won him a Pulitizer Prize in 1978 and in his own words "The card game is a metaphor for fate and how the events of life are dealt to us.  We have to play them as they come our way."  This was Coburn's first play and it was initially performed on Broadway in 1977 starring husband and wife Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, garnering Tandy a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

Husband and wife team Tom Roohr and Joanne Callahan-Roohr are continuing this fine tradition by performing "The Gin Game" weekends until Saturday, September 14 at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin. They are well suited to the dramatic task, playing off each other with a familiarity and affection.

Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey have not entered the senior citizen stage of life easily or without pain.  They both find themselves relegated to an outpost, neglected by family, abandoned by friends, to a retirement home that saw better days decades before.

They are relics of a bygone era and they find each other because they are more verbal and mobile than all the other residents (substitute inmates).  Over dozens of games of gin rummy, which Fonsia wins, much to Weller's dismay, anger and explosive outbursts, they reveal much of themselves to each other, secrets from the past that color the present day.  Kris McMurray is the psychiatrist/producer/director who makes their sessions together meaningful, memorable and laced with a measure of menace.

For tickets ($30), call the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with doors opening at 7 p.m.  Bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy dessert and drinks on site.

Watch how Fonsia "plays her cards right" but, in the process, drives Weller crazy.

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