Separate Tables - performed October 1981
By Terence Rattigan
Performed with the kind permission of Samuel French
Director - Dennis Murfitt
Cast(in order of appearance)
Production TeamPeter Westbrook, Jenny Rollings, Bill Kempster, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Kevin Brown, June Wendon, Gill Baxter, Dennis Murfitt, Derek Cobbold, Geoffrey Taylor, Valerie Taylor, Sally Mann, Jack Hacon, Ian & Ann Tucker, Patience Ling, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.
The PlayThese two plays are set in a shabby genteel hotel on England's south coast. Except for the two leads in each (which may be doubled) the same characters appear in both. In Table by the Window, a down at the heels journalist is confronted by his ex wife, a former model who provoked him to a violent act that sent him to prison and ruined him. Still loving each other, they nevertheless go through another terrible scene and it is the hotel manager, Miss Cooper, who finds a way to repair their broken lives. In Table Number Seven, a bogus army officer without the background and education he claims and a neurotic girl with a ruthless domineering mother are attracted to each other. A sordid scandal threatens to drive them apart, but when all seems lost Miss Cooper comes to the rescue.
ReviewsYet another success can be recorded for the Manifest Theatre Group with its latest play Separate Tables, by Terence Rattigan. This is the group’s first attempt at serious drama, and shows the range of talents it can offer. Musicals, comedies and now drama – what else can the members stretch to?
The presentation of Separate Tables was worthy of a larger first night audience on Monday than the former British Legion Hall in Manningtree can hold but everyone there was certainly entertained. Produce and directed by Dennis Murfitt, the play – in two individual parts – gave us several characters to keep in mind. Although created by Terence Rattigan, the characters were brought to life convincingly by the cast.
Valerie Taylor, as Mrs Maud Railton-Bell, gave an excellent performance as a domineering, interfering snob.
Her disciple, Lady Gladys Mathieson, played by Pamela Talbot-Ashby, was just as convincing. With supporting players
like that, and Kevin Brown, as the young student doctor, Mr Charles Stratton, the leading pair had a lot to follow.
With only a few prompts needed, William Chapman as Mr John Malcolm portrayed the disillusioned journalist with
well-weighed portions of pathos and venom.
The first part of the play featured the regular life of a private hotel suddenly disturbed by the arrival of a new guest.
Her relationship with her ex-husband is analysed and improved by the end.
In the second part of the play we were introduced to two new characters, while the originals were developed even more.
Dennis Murfitt, mastermind behind the whole production, appeared on stage as Major Pollock, who was later
revealed to be slightly less than he pretended. The acting here was certainly the light to follow in amateur
performance – Dennis Murfitt was terrific.
Separate Tables, Manifest Theatre Group, British Legion Hall, Manningtree, Tuesday.
The first, Table by the Window, is by far the most difficult to bring off successfully depending as it does on the
intrusion into this private world, with all its petty rivalries and set pecking order, of a disturbingly attractive
visitor and her effect upon the normal male focus of resentment.
Table Number Seven – again I was puzzled why the titles that have served all these years should be now labelled merely Tables One and Two unless it was to justify their positions on a very good set – is very much within the ambit of the closed ranks of the hotel guests as their massed disapproval maliciously narrows to hound one of their number who has betrayed and disgraced his and their supposed class.
Dennis Murfitt's sad Major Pollock, infinitely more credible in his moments of self-realisation than his early
bogus bluff ex-officer and gentleman, had genuine patches in his tenderly played passages with a sensitively
created withdrawn ugly duckling of a Sybil from Frances Brown and Janet Green in quite the best performance of
the evening touched in the professional poise and the emotional depths of the hotel manageress Miss Cooper
with a quiet certainty that I found both moving and appealing.