Happened to overhear some guy during intermission of Lamb’s Players Theatre’s world-premiere Dinner with Marlene, a new play by local Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey: “I thought this was going to be more about Marlene Dietrich,” he said, sounding confused. Dinner with Marlene is about Marlene Dietrich, but it’s not a sexy Hollywood tell-all. It’s playwright Harvey’s stage realization of a story told to her by her father, who one night in October 1938 in Paris sat down to dinner with a group that included Dietrich, socialite Barbara Hutton and master violinist Fritz Kreisler. The undercurrent of the dinner chat turns intensely political, and the principled and heroic Dietrich (played vividly by Deborah Gilmour Smyth) emerges. It can be numbing watching eight people sitting at a table for two hours, but the last half-hour is your reward for doing so.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.