A double-bill by Terence Rattigan - Table by the Window / Table Number Seven. Two plays about loneliness at a seaside hotel in Bournemouth. Note: The setting and cast/characters are the same for both plays, with the exception of the two leads who change characters.
Separate Tables: Original London West End Production 1954
Opened 22 September 1954, Closed 30 June 1956 at the St James Theatre (now demolished)
The original cast for Table by the Window stars Eric Porter as 'Mr Malcolm' and Margaret Leighton as 'Mrs Shankland'. The cast for Table Number Seven stars Eric Porter as 'Major Pollock' and Margaret Leighton as 'Miss Railton-Bell'. The cast for both plays featured Jane Eccles as 'Lady Matheson', May Hallatt as 'Miss Meacham', Aubrey Mather as 'Mr Fowler', Beryl Measor as 'Miss Cooper' and Phylliss Neilson-Terry as 'Mrs Railton-Bell' with Basil Henson as 'Mr Charles Sratton', Patricia Raine as 'Miss Jean Tanner / Mrs Jean Stratton', Marion Fawcett as 'Mabel' and Priscilla Morgan as 'Doreen'. Directed by Peter Glenville with designs by Michael Weight.
Kay Walsh was originally scheduled to star alongside Eric Porter, but she left prior to the pre-west end try-out in Liverpool due to 'artistic differances' and was replaced by Margaret Leighton.
The St James' Theatre was a 1,200-seat theatre located in King Street in St James's, London. Separate Tables became the St James' longest running production with it's 515th performance on Thursday 29 December 1955 and by time the production closed on Saturday 30 June 1956, it had played a total of 726 performances.
Following its closure in the West End, this production transferred to New York's Broadway opening on 25 October 1956 for an eleven month run with six of the London cast reprising their roles: Eric Portman and Margaret Leighton with Beryl Measor, Phyllis Neilson-Terry, Jane Eccles and May Hallatt. Margaret Leighton won the Tony Award for 'Best Actress in a Play'.
Separate Tables: 1st London West End Revival 1977
Previewed 12 January 1977, Opened 17 January 1977, Closed Saturday 20 August 1977 at the Apollo Theatre
The original cast for Table by the Window stars John Mills as 'Mr Malcolm' and Jill Bennett as 'Mrs Shankland'. The cast for Table Number Seven stars John Mills as 'Major Pollock' and Jill Bennett as 'Miss Railton-Bell'. The cast for both plays featured Margaret Courtenay as 'Mrs Railton-Bell', Rose Hill as 'Miss Meacham', Raymond Huntley as 'Mr Fowler', Ambrosine Phillpotts as 'Lady Matheson' and Zena Walker as 'Miss Cooper' with Paul Gregory as 'Mr Charles Sratton', Delia Lindsay as 'Miss Jean Tanner / Mrs Jean Stratton', Shelia Mitchell as 'Mabel' and Jean Perkins as 'Doreen'. Directed by Michael Blakemore with designs by Annena Stubbs and ligting by Robert Bryan.
Separate Tables: 2nd London West End Revival 1993
Previewed 23 June 1993, Opened 5 July 1993, Closed 30 October 1993 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)
The cast for Table by the Window stars Peter Bowles as 'Mr Malcolm' and Patricia Hodge as 'Mrs Shankland'. The cast for Table Number Seven stars Peter Bowles as 'Major Pollock' and Patricia Hodge as 'Miss Railton-Bell'. The cast for both plays featured Rosemary Leach as 'Mrs Railton-Bell', Miriam Karlin as 'Miss Meacham', Rachel Gurney as 'Lady Matheson', Charlotte Cornwell as 'Miss Cooper' and Ernest Clark as 'Mr Fowler' with Ben Walden as 'Mr Charles Sratton', Faith Flint as 'Miss Jean Tanner / Mrs Jean Stratton', Kate O'Malley as 'Doreen' and Jennifer Thorne as 'Mabel'. Directed by Peter Hall with designs by Carl Toms and lighting by Alan Burrett.
"If the first play in this double bill, set in a Bournemouth private hotel, traditionally works less well, it is because Terrance Rattigan strives for an optimism the situation doesn't justify...having expertly diagnosed the disease of mismatched passion, Terrance Rattigan provides too instant a cure. It is the second play, Table Number Seven, that is a minor classic... What makes this a landmark fifties' play is Rattigan's demonstration that human pride can triumph over common prejudice. When the hotel bigot, Mrs Railton-Bell - played with just the right chintzy outrage by Rosemary Leach - is routed, one can scarce forbear to cheer; and there is a marvellous moment in Peter Hall's production when the major, newly restored to his regular table, flips open his napkin with a defiant panache. Both Peter Bowles, all blazered, cavalry-twilled insecurity, and Patricia Hodge, exuding fear of life as the hotel-dragon's mousy daughter, rise to the occasion. And among the permanent residents there is sprightly work from Ernest Clark as a discarded Mr Chips and from Miriam Karlin as a brisk and downright devotee of the turf. But the virtue of Hall's production lies in its reminder that behind Rattigan the prose-craftsman lurked a writer of tolerance and wisdom with a poetic flair for depicting our essential solitude." The Guardian
"Separate Tables consists of two short plays, each set in the same genteel Bournemouth hotel, each peopled with many of the same characters... The supporting cast play with skill and wit enough to conceal the relative thinness of their roles. Nor are the starring parts a lot thicker in the first of the plays, Table By The Window... Peter Bowles, growling and boozily weaving about the stage, and Patricia Hodge, gravely melancholic in her elegant black dress, work hard to suggest that these are sad, self-destructive people who find it impossible to live either with or without each other; but they never quite shake the plot free of an unreality verging at its hairier moments on melodrama. Table Number Seven is another matter... Bowles abandons his rumpled tweed for a natty blazer and his rough, man-of-the-people manner for parody blimpishness, and Hodge makes an even more impressive switch, successfully dwindling into Mrs Railton-Bell's wan, oppressed daughter. He is a phoney major who has been convicted of fumbling at women in a cinema, and she is the chronic neurotic who defies her prurient, vindictive mother by remaining his friend. In extremis, both performers achieve a dignity that could seem forced or sentimental, but in fact has been prepared for by the unassuming inwardness of their acting." The Times
"The two leading actors are given different roles in each play. Expertly showing the panic under the Major's brash, pukka disguise, Peter Bowles is first seen cutting an impressively haunted figure as the shambling, heavy-drinking, left-wing journalist. In this earlier work, Patricia Hodge is the epitome of elegant despair, but her beauty is a touch too unflawed to make the model's distress over ageing look very plausible. Only the cheekbones give her away, though, in her startling metamorphosis as a violently plain, cowed hysteric in the later play. The wall at the back of Carl Toms's revolving lounge and dining-room set is emblazoned with a huge fading Union Jack design, which will certainly help those who may otherwise have thought we were in Baghdad rather than Bournemouth. A touch heavy-handedly, this patriotic pattern and the intermittent strains of 'Jerusalem' are there to remind us of the post- imperial twilight in which Hall's excellent cast are coming to terms with their loneliness. " The Independent
Separate Tables in London at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre) previewed from 23 June 1993, opened on 5 July 1993 and closed on 30 October 1993