From: Wednesday, 29th March 2006
To: Saturday, 13 May 2006
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The play centres around the Hotel Beauregard, a typical small south coast establishment. It is a refuge for the elderly, the lonely and somewhat eccentric. Here the long term residents interact with each other and with the occasional short term visitors.
5 April 2006
Made up of two linked one act plays, "Table By The Window" and "Table Number Seven", Terrence Rattigan's Separate Tables is a delightful insight into a dazzling array of characters whose lives seem to be on hold within the quaint surroundings of a hotel in Bournemouth. The first play features divorcee Ann Shankland (Clare Holman) who arrives at the cosy Beauregard seeking her former abusive husband, John Malcolm (Nigel Cooke).
This tale is superbly linked to act two which features existing supporting characters attempting to pass judgment on a Major who has fallen from grace. But in steps lonely Hotel Manageress Miss Cooper (beautifully played by Alexandra Mathie) to bring a sense of perspective to the proceedings. The Major is accused of "persistently importuning male persons" and one cannot help but think that Rattigan felt challenged writing about homosexuality at a time when many writers were implying rather than informing the audience of the re...
Latest User Review
220.127.116.11) - 2 May 2006:
Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables comprises what are effectively two one-act plays which are set in the same location – a hotel in Bournemouth where the guests are a mix of (mainly elderly) permanent residents and younger casual visitors – and share the majority of their characters, but tell two individual stories. The time gap between the events in the two plays is only eight months – the first being set in December 1953 and the second in August 1954 – but the piece conveys a strong sense that the world has somehow moved on in the interim, and this is emphasised in the change which takes place in Ti Green's design, floral chintz furnishings with deep frills being replaced by plain green ones in a 1950s style and perched on stubby wooden legs. The first story concerns an ex-junior minister, who had been disgraced some years before after being imprisoned for violent behaviour towards his wife and a policeman, and who has taken refuge at the hotel under a different name and now makes his living by writing articles for a left-wing journal. His ex-wife, herself since remarried and once more divorced, tracks him down to the hotel and the ultimate outcome reveals that, no matter how stormy the relationship between this apparently unlikely couple (he is a former docker and she a model from what would then have been considered a significantly higher social stratum) may be when they are together, they simply cannot live without each other. In the second story (presented here in a revised version which Rattigan wrote for the first New York production but which was not in fact used there), the hotel is thrown into turmoil by the revelation not only that one of the current guests is not the major he purports to be but also that he has pleaded guilty to an offence of importuning men on the Bournemouth esplanade. It might be thought that today's audiences might find it hard to relate to the clash between reactionary intolerance and modern liberalism that ensues amongst the other guests, but when one of the elderly residents (renowned amongst the rest for her alleged eccentricity) proclaimed vehemently that she didn't "give a damn" about the "major's" personal life, our loud applause was for the character's attitude as well as the performance of the actress (Shuna Snow) who played her. And as the story reached a gripping climax, you could have cut the tension in the theatre with a knife. Both John Malcolm (the disgraced ex-junior minister) and David Pollock (the "major") are portrayed superbly by Nigel Cooke, whilst Clare Holman undertakes, very successfully, the contrasting roles of the former's ex-wife and the timid daughter of one of the elderly residents who ultimately finds the courage to defy her mother. But there is neither a weak link in the cast nor a single false note in Sarah Frankcom's enthralling and very fine production. ...