Separate Tables (1974)

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Poster by Poster Designer

Two Plays

by Terrence Rattigan

Directed by Leslie Lidyard

Performances: February 1974, Theatre

Introduction to Table by the Window

The action of the play takes place in the Beauregard Private Hotel, Bournemouth, during the winter.

Scene 1: The dining-room. Dinner time.

Scene 2: The lounge. After dinner.

Scene 3: The dining-room. The following morning


Introduction to Table Number Seven

The action of the play takes place in the Beauregard Private Hotel, Bournemouth, during the summer.

Scene 1: The lounge. After tea.

Scene 2: The dining-room. Dinner time.


Crew for both plays


Time - 20 years of it - has not dealt kindly with "Separate Tables", Terrence Rattigan's painstakingly constructed pair of plays set in a genteel Bournemouth private hotel.

We can still admire the dramatic device whereby two different pairs of principles share the remaining cast of nine, so creating the same milieu for two contrasting stories.

We can even, after allowing for the great change in social outlook over the past two decades, concede the strengths of these central characters. But the dialogue, once praised for its naturalism, now seems slow and measured, and the denizens of the Beauregard Hotel are little more than superior stock types.

Having decided to revive these old war-horses, the South London Theatre Company (sic) boldly reverted to the authors's original intention (most unusual amongst amateurs) of having the two pairs of principles played by the same couple. Victor Shaw and Ruth Shettle are two of the most distinguished of the company's players, and the gamble is justified by the chance it gives them to show their versatility.

"Table by the Window" is generally recognised as the weaker play of the two, and I find Mr Shaw less than entirely convincing as John Malcolm, the left-wing politician on the skids. His accent sounds a little contrived, and his personality is surely too buoyant. His abrasive scene with Mrs Railton-Bell and Lady Matheson has the look of merely a mild contretemps, while his rough treatment of his ex-wife comes closer to melodrama than the text indicates.


Donald Madgwick, The Croydon Advertiser.


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