John Golden Theatre, (10/06/1977 - 12/31/1978)

First Preview: Sep 27, 1977
Opening Date: Oct 06, 1977
Closing Date: Dec 31, 1978
Total Previews: 11
Total Performances: 517

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Setting: Time: Present.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Hume Cronyn and Mike Nichols; Co - Producer: Icarus Productions and The Cronyn Company

Written by D.L. Coburn

Directed by Mike Nichols

Scenic Design by David Mitchell; Costume Design by Bill Walker; Lighting Design by Ronald Wallace; Sound Consultant: Erskine-Shapiro, Theatre Technology, Inc.

General Manager: McCann & Nugent Productions, Inc.; Company Manager: James Mennen

Production Supervisor: Nina Seely; Assistant Stage Mgr: William Chance

Press Representative: David A. Powers; Advertising: The Blaine Thompson Company; Photographer: Zoë Dominic; Playbill cover art by Paul Davis

Originally presented by The Long Wharf Theatre (M. Edgar Rosenblum, Executive Director; Arvin Brown, Artistic Director)

Opening Night Cast

Hume CronynWeller Martin
(Sep 27, 1977 - Jun 04, 1978)
Jessica TandyFonsia Dorsey
(Sep 27, 1977 - Sep 03, 1978)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1978 Best Play [nominee] 

Written by D.L. Coburn; Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Hume Cronyn and Mike Nichols

 1978 Best Actor in Play [nominee] 

Hume Cronyn

winner 1978 Best Actress in a Play [winner] 

Jessica Tandy

 1978 Best Direction of a Play [nominee] 

Mike Nichols

Drama Desk Award

 1978 Outstanding New Play [nominee] 

Produced by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Hume Cronyn and Mike Nichols; Written by D.L. Coburn

 1978 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Hume Cronyn

winner 1978 Outstanding Actress in a Play [winner] 

Jessica Tandy

 1978 Outstanding Director of a Play [nominee] 

Mike Nichols

 1978 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Ronald Wallace

 1978 Outstanding Set Design [nominee] 

David Mitchell

Pulitzer Prize

winner 1978 for Drama [winner] 

Written by D.L. Coburn


New York Daily News: "'Gin Game' thin, Cronyns fine"

Gin rummy is a fast but not particularly interesting pastime, and "The Gin Game," a two-character comedy by D.L. Coburn that came to the Golden last evening, is a fast but less than absorbing play. It is, in fact, as thin as a pensioner's overcoat and your response to it will depend almost entirely on the interplay of its stars, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. They are terrific, but their efforts and those of their director, Mike Nichols, can't quite disguise the essential shallowness of the enterprise.

The scene is the deep, shabby and desolate porch of an old people's home, a spot Weller Martin, played by Cronyn, and a newer arrival, Fonsia Dorsey, played by Miss Tandy, have sought to escape the incessant gabble of TV and other patients, who either pass the time discussing one another's ailments or sit in catatonic-like solitude.

Weller, a crusty and cussin' oldster whose only ailment is advanced years, induces Fonsia, a 71-year-old diabetic, to join him in a game of gin, in which he quickly instructs her and at which she repeatedly wins (he takes just one hand all evening).

And really, that's about all there is to the play, which is in four brief scenes split by a single intermission. Except the Coburn, a Dallas resident whose first play this is, has a good ear for dialogue and inevitably, because of their very plight, comes to make you care a little for these two basically rather unpleasant, but nevertheless human, inmates.

Not as much as David Storey and two other first-rate actors, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, made you care in similar circumstances in the play "Home." But a bit.

And increasingly so, as the bond they achieve is practically identical to that of a bickering, fault-finding man and wife.

But when we take leave of them at the end, we have really learned precious little about them. They have no visitors on the Sunday (visitors' day) afternoons during which three of the four scenes take place, because they've largely alienated, or have been alienated from those who might have come to see them. She from a nearby son, the product of a marriage that lasted a mere four years, and he from children who were awarded to his wife in a divorce and moved with her to Chicago and a new family life.

Fonsia, a high school dropout, was earning her keep by looking after an apartment dwelling until she grew ill. He was in marketing and research till that went bust. Both, they reluctantly but finally admit to one another, are welfare patients.

The Cronyns are, of course, one of our most treasured husband-and-wife teams, and they go about their business to perfection; he with his intemperate outbursts followed by apologies, and she with her ladylike tremors finally giving way to a shocking (to her) four-letter verbal explosion. That, along with his climactic beating to death of the card table with his cane, provide the ultimate moments of merriment.

But we never come to care very much for Fonsia and Weller, intrigued though we may be by the coming together of these two lonely and not especially agreeable people. So "The Gin Game" becomes, finally, a stunt, a protracted sketch, a vehicle for an adroit and justly admired acting team.

David Mitchell has designed a marvelously evocative setting, effectively lighted by Ronald Wallace, and Bill Walker has clothed the pair with coming drabness. As for director Nichols' attempt to stage almost an entire evening around a card table, the device becomes almost as self-conscious as Hitchcock's filming an entire movie in a lifeboat.

Two more hands for bridge might have made all the difference.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

John Golden Theatre

(10/6/1977 - 12/31/1978)


E. G. Marshall
Weller Martin (Jun 6, 1978 - Dec 31, 1978)
Maureen Stapleton
Fonsia Dorsey (Sep 5, 1978 - Dec 31, 1978)

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