Separate Tables

Definition

Theater

  • Two one-act plays on a single bill by Terence Rattigan,first performed in 1954 at St James's Theatre, London. The two plays,Table by the Window and Table Number Seven, evoke thesadness and isolation of life in a small residential hotel. The openingproduction, directed by Peter Glenville, starred Eric Portman (giving"as good a performance as England can show" accordingto critic Ronald barker) and Margaret Leighton. In 1956 it openedat the Music Box in New York, where Leighton won the Tony Award forher performance. During the run her husband Max Reinhardtdivorced her on the grounds of misconduct with the actor LaurenceHarvey, whom she married the following year. The play was filmed in1958 with David Niven (who won an Oscar for his performance as MajorPollock), Burt Lancaster, Wendy Hiller, Deborah Kerr, and Gladys Cooper.

    Set in the dining room of the Beauregard Hotel, Bournemouth,the plays explore the lives of its lonely and ageing residents. InTable by the Window, the ex-wife of the disgraced politicianJohn Malcolm discovers that he is having an affair with the manageress.Malcolm still loves his former spouse, despite their stormy past,and they depart together. In Table Number Seven Mrs Railton-Belluncovers the fact that Major Pollock's military credentials are bogusand incites the other residents against him. Her plain and timid daughterSibyl, finding that she has much in common with Pollock, defies hermother and persuades him to stay.

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