Friday, January 18, 2013
COMEDY Table Manners plays at the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City until Saturday, January 26.
WE’RE at the Barn Theatre in WGC. The cast of six actors are in the dining room and we are fed a large helping of fun.
Both acts of Table Manners, one of the plays in Alan Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests trilogy, take place around the table.
The two other plays in the series are Living Together, the same characters in the sitting room, and Round and Round the Garden, again identical persons, but this time outdoors.
They describe the events at a country house over one weekend.
And Table Manners, which plays at the theatre in Handside Lane until Saturday, January 26, is considered the best of the three.
The philandering Norman is the protagonist in all of them, although the comedy in Table Manners stands on its own without the audience needing knowledge of the other two plays.
Norman is an assistant librarian and a gigolo, a smooth womaniser who most of the times gets his girl. However, this time things do go wrong.
His planned ‘dirty weekend’ is foiled by the arrival of his wife and others, but you need to see the play to fully appreciate the ensuing turmoil and to saviour the dialogue at the hands, or rather pen, of prolific playwright Ayckbourn.
The concoction Annie has prepared “oxtail soup with unidentified lumps” is only one tasty dish. The humorous variation of musical chairs – no-one can decide where to sit – is another snippet of Ayckbourn’s entertaining touches.
Ayckbourn has written 76 full length plays in all. The first, The Square Cat, premiered in 1959 and his plays are, after Shakespeare’s, the most widely performed in the English language.
Table Manners isn’t quite “a nice, civilized evening” but it is great entertainment.
Tickets are on sale now for just £10. School groups pay only £5 per seat.
Three free pre- and post-show talks will take place during the play’s run.
Director Coral Walton discusses the dining room’s window on the Norman Conquests on Wednesday, January 23 at 7.30pm.
It’s the turn of Dr Cindy Lawford to ponder Ayckbourn’s view of middle-class, middle-aged relationships the following evening in the clubroom.
Cast members will stay on stage to answer audience questions following the performance on Friday, January 25.
Call the box office on 01707 324300 or visit www.barntheatre.co.uk