Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills closes out their 2016-17 season with Terence Rattigan’s SEPARATE TABLES, a drama that blends a pair of stories that uses the same characters and setting.
The location is a residential boutique hotel placed within a small seaside village located a distance from London. Its period is in the latter years of the 1950’s. The first episode entitled Table By The Window, speaks upon a left wing politician writer John Malcolm (Adrian Neil) who in recent years had fallen upon hard times with his excessive drinking. He also did time in prison for assaulting his now ex-wife Anne Shankland (Susan Priver). John is currently having a fling with the manager of the hotel, Miss Cooper (Diana Angelina). Anne then shows up at the hotel unexpectedly. Was her appearance at this hostel an arranged appearance or was is totally “accidental”? The second act Table Number Seven takes place over a year later at the same hotel. The focus is resident Major David Pollack (David Hunt Stafford), a retired army officer who has taken an interest with Sybel (Roslyn Cohn) who lives with her mother (Mona Lee Wylde) at the hotel. Sybel is rather awkward, but still respects this former military official. However, the Major holds a deep secret. He’s been accused of molesting female patrons at the local movie house, and Sybel’s mother exposes him for what he has done. Sybel’s mother manipulates the remaining residents of the hotel to expel him for his evil deed. Will the Major leave the hotel or will he be allowed to stay, and will Sybel herself join suit?
This melodrama by British playwright Terence Rattigan is a play that is very talky, meaning that there is more dialogue spoken throughout than character driven action. This form of play writing comes from the standard variety of theater pieces that is normally found in plays originating from the UK in the pre-television era, or at least before television made any major impact!
Theatre 40’s presentation of this play holds much of the same traits. It features a rather powerful cast of players that includes in addition to those noted above, Melissa Collins as Jean Stratton, John Wallace Combs as Mr. Fowler, Michele Schultz as Miss Meacham, Caleb Slavens as Charles Stratton, Suzan Solomon as Doreen, and Mariko Van Kampen as Lady Mathison that do speak in droves while extracting their emoting.
Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s resident set decorator, creates a setting that features a center drop that fluctuates between the hotel’s main sitting room and the restaurant through a large turntable that’s spun between scenes. The wings of the stage at left and right remain the same, blending in its appropriate stage sites.
Directed by Jules Aaron, SEPARATE TABLES as displayed by Theatre 40 holds a respected title as the two stories stand alone to one another, yet mingles with its physical presence.