Review: Separate Tables, by The Exmouth Players
PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 July 2019
Terence Rattigan's drama focuses on the residents of a Bournemouth hotel in the 1950s - not all of whom are what they claim to be
The Exmouth Players nostalgically transported audiences at the Blackmore Theatre back to the seaside resort of Bournemouth in the 1950s and the genteel confines of the Hotel Beauregard, in Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables, directed by Clare Philbrock.
The hotel is home to a mixture of elderly, lonely and indigent "regular" residents whose varied and straitened circumstances have thrust them together. The Players brought the characters to life as they passed the time of day across their separate tables in the dinning-room, and shared small-talk in the adjoining lounge, accompanied at times by the occasional "outsider". The manageress does her utmost to maintain an air of respectability but as the story unfolds and the fears, foibles and past misdemeanours of some of her residents are exposed, it becomes clear that not everyone is what they claim to be. The characters were established from the start with Pat Peters completely in command of proceedings as the matriarchal Mrs Railton-Bell, and an almost unrecognisable Fin O'Leary as the wonderfully drab Lady Matheson trailing in her wake, but finding the courage of her own convictions in the end. Chris Eilbeck as Miss Cooper the manageress was professional and efficient, but showed compassion for her guests even at the cost of her own happiness when the love of her life, disgraced former politician John (well interpreted by Ray Virr) returns to the arms of his ex-wife Ann, glamorously played by Laura Donnellan. James Phillips and Courteney Potter were convincing as the young students on holiday, later returning as a married couple complete with baby and an original coach-built pram! Brian Lawless gave an effective portrayal of a pukka army Major covering his humble origins, and concealing his furtive misbehaviours in the cinema. Pat Trythall made a dreamy Miss Meacham always ready with a hot racing tip, Howard Eilbeck a reticent retired schoolmaster, Ellie Davis a gauche Sybil dominated by her mother, and Rosalind Ford and Helen Ballard were great fun as the waitresses. The set was very well-dressed with crisp tablecloths, silver napkin rings and a splendid view of the Bournemouth pier from the dining room window!