Playwright Dietz peers behind veneer concealing our secrets

“Rancho Mirage” playwright Steven Dietz.
“Rancho Mirage” playwright Steven Dietz.Tim Fuller

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On stage, dinner parties usually tend toward farce. But for playwright Steven Dietz, that was only the beginning. “When I started ‘Rancho Mirage,’ it was pleasantly funny,” says Dietz, whose dark comedy opens at the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown Saturday. “It took a while for me to get underneath and find the beating heart of these people.”

Set in the fictional suburb of Rancho Mirage, the play focuses on three couples, all longtime friends, who have gathered at one couple’s home for dinner. The location, says Dietz, is disarmingly familiar, and the friends’ banter is light and funny until it turns darker, deeper, and surprisingly heartfelt. The title, he says, offers a hint of the tension between the idealistic image people try to project and the reality that lies underneath.

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