Thursday, June 21, 2012

Separate Tables -Review- People's Theatre

Separate Tables
People's Theatre
20 June 2012

I have never been to Bournemouth before, but after watching Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables at The People's Theatre, not sure I would want to set foot in the place...well certainly not the Beauregard Private Hotel.
Set in the dining room of this 'not so plush' hotel, Separate Tables tells the tales of the guests that come and go, and the long stayers-the ladies and gents that are too posh to end up at a retiree home.
Act 1 is set as 'Table by the Window' in the Winter of 1952.
We see the residents all sitting at, as the title suggests, separate tables, discussing the weather, and the morals of the other guests. We see the conversation of a down at heels journalist Mr Malcolm (Michael Blair) on his travels, but being hunted down and found by his ex wife Mrs Shankland (Moira Valentine) both are still in love with each other, but after trying to kill her, wants to be incognito. Trouble there I can tell you! Especially when it is uncovered that Malcolm and the hotel's manager, Miss Cooper (Penny Lamport) are having relations.
The really humourous and 'oh-god-how-I-could-really-quite-happily-strangle-a-couple-like-this' mother-daughter team of Mrs Rainton-Bell (Anne Cater) and Sybil ((again played by Moira Valentine), torn into each other (well, Sybil did it in her head) but the mother always ruled the roost in that and any conversation.
A young couple, Miss Jean Tanner (Kelly Godfrey) and Charles Stratton (Jacob Ellis) act foolishly in love, but against the whole opinion of marriage.
All served by Mabel (the brilliant Elizabeth Hack) the waitress with the flair of an ostrich and witty, or maybe a little rude personality on the scale of Stalin.
All separate tables, all separate problems for the long walk on the promenade to digest.
The interval comes, with us having to piece together what becomes of them.

Act 2 is set as Table Number Seven in the Summer of 1954.
The lovebird couple from act 1 are back in the hotel, after being, go on, guest it, married, with child-in-tow.
A snobbish ex-Major Pollock (also played by Michael Blair) parades around the hotel, as though he owns the place, but is certainly put in place when a crime is reported on, in the local press that sets the tongues wagging of the hotel's motley crue.
The Mother-daughter combo are still sheltering there, still having the type of relationship, that The Samaritans get thousands of calls a day from.

The whole genre of what it takes to be a human is displayed in front of us, with passion and humour that makes us all be the same, but at totally different ends of the social and mental spectrum
Rattigan uses his massive knowledge of playwright supreme to conjure up a play that anybody can watch, that anybody can be related to the characters involved, or certainly know of somebody who is similar.
This mild mannered comic play was well acted by all on stage. Top marks for the almost Miranda esq performance from Hack, who had me and my +1 giggling like little kids.
I liked this play because it had a bit of everything involved, but the slowish pace wouldn't have me seated for another showing. One of these plays that I am grateful to have seen, but it is firmly tucked up in bed now.

Separate Tables is showing until 23rd June.

Michael Hunter

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