The Dinner

a play in eight scenes

by Jillann Gabrielle

inspired by true events surrounding the assassination of JFK

synopsis

Four months after the assassination of President Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy’s mother, Janet—rattled by recurring nightmares of the event, receives a letter from, as it turns out, a former Russian spy who claims to have known Lee Harvey Oswald, the then accused and murdered assassin. Her husband, Hugh, urges her to take it to the former CIA director, Dulles, (currently on the Warren Commission investigating the assassination) who is very interested in meeting the spy. She invites the spy, who expects to meet her daughter Jackie, over for dinner and drinks to get information out of him. Dulles agrees to join them. Janet visits Jackie to try to get her to agree to come—she refuses. And in a contentious scene she tells Janet that she has had enough of the assassination. Nothing will bring Jack back. She needs to move on in her new lives with Bobby Kennedy and Onassis. The Russian spy, George de Mohrenschildt and his wife, Jeanne, show up at Janet and Hugh’s residence in D.C. for ‘the dinner’ and drinks, as Dulles listens outside on headsets with FBI agents. George and Jeanne regale Janet and Hugh over drinks as George explains how he originally met little Jackie as a child and Janet on a flight to DC. Dulles ‘crashes’ the party, much to the chagrin of George. The five then during dinner get into a rather heated debate on who actually murdered Janet’s beloved son-in-law, JFK. George defends Oswald, revealing that Oswald admired Kennedy—despite Oswald’s far left leanings—and he was a terrible shot. Janet strongly suspects LBJ. George and Jeanne doubt the validity of the Warren Commission’s work and Hugh brings the historical perspective of Jack’s contentious relationship with CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dulles is forced to defend the CIA. George and Dulles eventually go mano a mano over the ‘no conspiracy, lone gunman theory’ versus ‘CIA involvement—using Oswald as the patsy theory’. The Zapruder film finally brings things to a head as Janet and Jeanne cry into each others’ arms. Dulles is eventually forced to reveal himself as the ring leader of the assassination as he brings in the FBI agent to arrest George and Jeanne for espionage. George then dramatically relieves his conscience as he confesses that he was hired by Dulles to groom Oswald as a patsy for the CIA. But he bailed on the mission when he learned its ultimate purpose, and he and Jeanne fled to Haiti. Janet and Hugh threaten to expose Dulles, which he quashes immediately as he says, “You will never speak a word of this. CIA has extremely long tentacles.”

Harold Pinter meets Murder She Wrote.          

In readings late 2020.