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Separate Tables at The Royal Exchange

A triumph for the Royal Exchange. Explores prejudice, lies, deceit and if that is not enough, introversion, introspection and sexual repression...

Published on April 4th 2006.

Separate Tables at The Royal Exchange

By Terence Rattigan

Directed by Sarah Frankcom

A triumph for the Royal Exchange. A superb company led brilliantly by Nigel Cooke and Clare Holman explore prejudice, lies, deceit and if that is not enough , introversion, introspection and sexual repression in an early 50s’ Bournemouth hotel setting. Yes, Bournemouth.

This was the Rattigan masterpiece and what we see is an amended version written for America but never actually performed. Coincidentally this play was written and premiered at a similar time as Arthur Millers’ “ The Crucible”. Both had a considerable impact on their very different early audiences. They opened up new definitions in a post war world where major changes were taking a considerable toll on the self belief of both the British and the Americans. A sea change was afoot in drama.

The “Beauregard“ Hotel reveals much about the private lives of long term residents and some staff. It charts deftly the decline of Empire and the malignant effect of the loss of personal self confidence coupled with insidious domination and introversion.

It portrays an era coming to an end with all the fear and foreboding that the beginning of a new age brings. Gradually, people’s private personas are stripped away to reveal nothing more than self doubts, agonies and even bravery in this the last bastion of a world fast vanishing forever.

In an enthralling linked two act narrative, a highly accomplished group of actors invite the audience to join in this emotional roller coaster as they search for stability in an uncertain world.

The direction of Sarah Frankcom guides one through all the nuances of the action in a surefooted , faultless display of the art . She has great support from Ti Greens clever design and Colin Grenfells’ lighting .

It is the acting however which is the bedrock of this wonderful evening . Without exception the cast enhance an evening which is both engrossing and riveting. I doubt if either Mr Cooke or Miss Holman will ever be surpassed in these roles. They offer definitive versions which were a privilege to witness. The highly enthusiastic audience clearly agreed.

The Royal Exchange has brought a somewhat neglected play to Manchester. It is unlikely to be bettered in our city for a considerable time. Go and see it. Please !!!

Richard Burbage
April 2006

Royal Exchange Theatre Box Office 0161 833 9833
Box Office 0870 7875793

Until 13th May

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