I have had the opportunity to see Guess Who's Coming to Dinner twice at the Guthrie. Why would I go twice? Because it was thought provoking, witty, insightful, challenging, and wonderfully done. I give high remarks to all the actors in the show who portrayed such vivid characters. I was initially excited to see this show because of the theme of interracial marriage with the prejudice that surrounds the topic. While we have come along way from the 60’s on this issue, it is still something that is relevant to today’s world and society.
What saddens me most though is the reality of the prejudice that goes on in our culture. If someone wants to marry someone of a different race, I’d say go for it. Yes it will be tough and there will be issues that may arise, but overall if two people are in love they should try to make it work. It was interesting to see how both sets of parents reacted in the storyline to their marriage. Each had different viewpoints, but often they were similar.
I am a Korean adoptee that was raised from caucasian parents and my brother is adopted from Paraguay. We are truly an international family. This play really made me think about how my family would react if this was me in the play. While yes we live in a more educated and mixed culture, there are still issues today. In fact when my brother first met his girlfriend’s parents, he received similar reactions to what I saw on stage. Her father had an issue because my brother doesn’t look like them. So yes we do live in a more loving and accepting society, and yet there are still issues of culture, race, and identity that require work.
Two stand outs of this performance were when Dr. John Prentice says “You consider yourself a colored man, but I consider myself a man.” WOW is that powerful. Second highlight of this production was when Tillie played by Regina Marie Williams sang “Run Home Children, Run Home.” Each performance moved the audience to clap for her. The smoothness of her voice gave it a nice ring and you could hear a pin drop. She captured the attention of everyone on stage. The song is a song they would sing after playing hide and seek. For me it means more than that, it means freedom and running home to what you believe in.
“Run Home Children” is a reminder that sometimes we all need to just run home. I often think to myself when I am in a situation that I need help, I can ‘run home.’ While we aren’t children anymore, we can still run home. Not only was the song performed exceptionally, but it told a story and provided the audience with a message.
This story provided a dose of reality, humor, and seriousness about the idea of interracial marriage. I think that this play would be moving for all people especially those with various backgrounds. It was interesting to see in the audience people of color’s reaction versus caucasian audience’s reaction. As a person of color, it really hit home for me even more so than an average theatre goer. There are parts of the show that made me want to shout ‘Amen’ and parts of the show where I would want to ring the neck of the parent actors in how they reacted to the situation.
While many elements from the direction to the actors were beautiful in this show. What people are talking about the most is how two families of differing backgrounds eventually come to the table together to eat. At the end of the show, you see both families sitting down for dinner together. After all the fighting about things, you see them sitting down for a meal together. I know that within my own family sitting down for a meal together to talk things thru is the best. Ultimately I think that what the parents want is for their children to be happy and if that is marrying someone of a different race, then so be it. Sometimes parents need to let go and let their kids make choices and do what they love.
The show recently closed, but it is also a movie, so check it out. If the play ever comes back to the Guthrie or elsewhere, go see the show as it is moving, funny, and thought provoking.