Gay Premiere of Rattigan's Separate TablesDate: 25 March 1998
The original gay version of Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables will be performed for the first time ever today at London fringe venue the King's Head (25 March - 18 April). The previously unstaged version of the play came to light when biographer Geoffrey Wansell (whose Rattigan biography was shortlisted for the 1995 Whitbread Prize) discovered the original script.
It includes the one page of removed dialogue in which the character of the Major is arrested for importuning men on the esplanade - rather than women as in the in accepted version. The rest of the play remains the same. The reactions of the other characters to the Major's crime, however, can now be seen in an entirely different light.
Rattigan's main reasons for excising the text centred around the reactions of his mother (who attended the first nights of Separate Tables in both London and New York) who would be shocked by the gay material and the reactions of the Lord Chancellor whom he knew would object to any mention of homosexuality on the stage in 1954.
Separate Tables will be paired with Harlequinade in the Rattigan double bill, directed by Colin Ellwood. Written 50 years ago, Harlequinade follows the hilarious and moving fortunes of a crack West End theatre company crashlanded in a small Midlands town. With the first performance looming, cast members resigning and the leading actor subjected to a paternity suit, Rattigan explores the clash between West End values and small town expectations, between appearance and reality, and between theatre as exotic entertainment and a force for social good.
Rattigan, who suppressed his own sexual inclination during his life, is enjoying a successful revival on the fringe this year. His last play Cause Celebre, which has been well received at the Lyric Hammersmith, has also been newly explored for its homosexual undertones.