The Gin Game is a two-person, two-act play by D.L. Coburn that premiered at American Theater Arts in Hollywood in September 1976, directed by Kip Niven. It was Coburn's first play, and the theater's first production.
Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey, two elderly residents at a nursing home for senior citizens, strike up an acquaintance. Neither seems to have any other friends, and they start to enjoy each other's company. Weller offers to teach Fonsia how to play gin rummy, and they begin playing a series of games that Fonsia always wins. Weller's inability to win a single hand becomes increasingly frustrating to him, while Fonsia becomes increasingly confident.
While playing their games of gin, they engage in lengthy conversations about their families and their lives in the outside world. Gradually, each conversation becomes a battle, much like the ongoing gin games, as each player tries to expose the other's weaknesses, to belittle the other's life, and to humiliate the other thoroughly.
The Gin Game opened on Broadway on October 6, 1977 at the John Golden Theatre and ran for 517 performances. The play was directed by Mike Nichols and starred the married couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. The play has come to be closely associated with them. Jessica Tandy won the 1978 Tony Award -- Best Actress in a Play.
It was produced in the UK in 1999 with Joss Ackland and Dorothy Tutin at the Savoy Theatre, directed by Frith Banbury.
It was revived on Broadway in 1997 at the Lyceum Theatre where it ran for 145 performances. Charles Durning and Julie Harris co-starred, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. It received Tony Award nominations for Best Revival of a Play, Leading Actress in a Play and Direction of a Play.
Adaptations for television versions were made in 1981 with Cronyn and Tandy and in 2002 with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
Awards and nominations