Tables was probably
Rattigan’s finest work and demonstrates his art of characterisation. It
consists of two plays
set in the dining-room and lounge of a
private genteel hotel in Bournemouth, in which the
residents are obliged to take meals at individual tables, symbolising the
isolation of the individuals. All characters apart from 3 transients live
permanently at the hotel. Except for the two leads in each, the same
characters appear in both.
Table No. 1, a down-at-heels journalist is confronted by his ex-wife, a
former model who provoked him to a violent act that sent him to prison and
ruined him. Still loving each other, they nevertheless go through another
terrible scene and it is the hotel manager, Miss Cooper, who finds a way to
repair their broken lives.
Table No. 2, a bogus army Major without the background and education he
claims and a neurotic girl with a ruthless domineering mother are attracted to
each other. A sordid scandal threatens to drive them apart, but when all seems
lost Miss Cooper comes to the rescue
the original stage drama, the lewd incident which acted as a catalyst for the
blossoming of human relationships involved another man. In the screen
adaptation, the producers, aware of public sensibilities, changed the script to
make it a woman, the notion of homosexuality being considered too much for
1950’s taste. Ironically, a play about the petty attitudes of society was
perversely altered by the same mind-set, which was the subject of the play
itself, and so another layer of satire was added to the text.
Snob. Dominates her daughter. Well dressed. Nasty. Ring leader to get the
Mother of Sybil Railton-Bell.
Miss Sybil Railton-Bell
Timid, mousy, plain, scared of everyone. Ruled by her mother. Very
Daughter of Mrs Maude Railton-Bell. Cares very much for the Major.
Lady Gladys Matheson
Poorest of all residents.
Sweet and inoffensive. Level headed but follows Mrs Railton-Bell.
Friends with Mrs Railton-Bell.
a fashion model from Mayfair, London. Well dressed – elegant. Was married
to John Malcolm. She needs him as she is scared of being alone and getting
old although she can’t show him real love. On tablets. Vain and spoilt but
very scared of being alone.
Fools John into taking her back.
married to John Malcolm 8 years ago.
Miss Pat Cooper
Young masculine looking, handsome woman who runs the hotel. In love with
Strong, no nonsense character.
In love with John Malcolm whom she has sheltered for several years.
Waitress – cheeky
Manly loner. Reads about horse racing. Likes to bet. Has no bonds with
Alliances with no one.
Miss Jean Tanner/Mrs Jean Stratton
Trendy young woman, wears trousers which was a no no then – does her own
thing. Initially against marriage and convention but marries and has
baby in second play.
Girlfriend/wife of Charles Stratton
Hull docker. – now a journalist.
Still in love with ex wife of 8 years ago whom he tried to kill. Spent time
Hiding out at the hotel as doesn’t want anyone to know his history as he was
once a promising young government minister.
Drinks to forget.
Still in love with ex wife – Anne Shankland but having relationship with
Fake Major. Sad character. Bullied at school. Scared of life and people
so makes up the major to hide behind.
Lived in hotel for 4 years.
Is arrested for lewd behaviour in a cinema.
Cares for Sibyl as feels they are kindred spirits.
public school teacher.
Training to be a surgeon. Young, trendy.
Boyfriend/husband of Jean Tanner