The Gin Game

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The Gin Game
Written by Donald L. Coburn
Characters Weller Martin
Fonsia Dorsey
Date premiered September 24, 1976
Place premiered American Theater Arts
Hollywood, California
Original language English
Genre Tragi-Comedy
Official site

The Gin Game is a two-person, two-act play by Donald 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.

Production history[edit]

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. Cronyn and Tandy were succeeded in the original Broadway run by E. G. Marshall and Maureen Stapleton. It was produced in the United Kingdom 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.

It is being revived again on Broadway, again at the Golden Theatre, in the fall of 2015, starring James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson.


Adaptations for television versions were made in 1981 with Cronyn and Tandy, and again in 2003 with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
  • 1978 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
  • 1978 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 1997 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play
  • 1997 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play

In popular culture[edit]


External links[edit]