Fylde Coast Players
Separate Tables is a perfect example of the kind of ‘drawing room’ comedy that was wiped out by 60s ‘kitchen sink’ ones, but which have recently regained the status they deserve.
The very fact this play is still regularly performed, 60 years after being written, is a testament to the writing, and the Fylde Coast Players have done Terence Rattigan proud with a superb production that offers a meaningful philosophical insight into the morals and behaviour of the times.
The action takes place in a genteel Bournemouth hotel in the 1950s, perfectly captured by the imaginative set.
The story is divided into two parts, with a cast of mainly elderly residents responding to significant events taking place around them.
Poppy Flanagan played the serene, sophisticated Mrs Shankland, an ageing model who comes to the hotel in search of her ex-husband, disgraced alcoholic politician, John Malcolm (Andy Cooke), in a desperate effort to stave off a lonely future.
Rosie Withers was superb as Miss Cooper, chatelaine of the hotel, who overseas guests with a kind but firm hand, like a hospital matron. She has been in love with Malcom a long time but now realises she could be the one left behind.
In the second story, taking place 18 months later, one of the guests, Major Pollock (David Parry), is exposed in a newspaper for indecently nudging a lady in the cinema.
The other residents, dragon of the dining room Mrs Railton-Smith (Rosemary Roe) and her wimpish companion Lady Measham (Teresa Mallabone), demand the major be evicted.
Retired housemasterMr Fowler (Jeff Redfearn), who hopes every day one of his old boys may come to see him but they never do, reluctantly agrees with them.
Out of the blue, salvation comes for the Major in the form of Mrs Railton-Smith’s daughter, Sybil (Louise Davies), a timid spinster who has been going for walks with him. Now, for the first time in her life, Sybil stands up to her domineering mother.
The cast was completed by Kieran Docherty and Emily Cartmel as a young couple; Joyce Burgess as Miss Meacham, an eccentric elderly racing buff, and Gill Newby as Doreen the waitress.
Director, Jeff Redfearn, deserves every credit for combining comedy and tragedy while keeping the action going without the silences that sometimes pepper this play. A triumph for the society.