As you enter the Reginald Theatre, a large wooden table greets you ominously into its presence. White light sinks into its cracks and crooked timber and draws in the eye of the audience to its strong stature.
Table is about the life of a wooden table. As we learn the story behind each bump and scratch, its like cutting down an old tree and counting the rings of its trunk. Memories glide in and out of the space as if only partially recalled, faces and names overlap and ghosts wander about as a family’s troubled history unfolds around the old table. The tone is very much ethereal, emotionally driven and tragic.
The staging and use of space are particularly noticeable, as performers, like planets, orbit around the wooden centrepiece of the show. All action is directed inwards, people stand in different circles around the table and all things link back to the importance of this family heirloom. This play operates differently to others, where we follow this table like it’s our protagonist. This focus makes the pace and perspective of the show memorable.
Performances were outstanding! The actors maintained all throughout the feeling of naturalism and were not difficult to believe. The whole cast offered nuanced and headstrong performances, despite some of the action scripted feeling a little melodramatic at times.
While the show is sentimental about this table and offers some charming insights into familial connections, it is also incredibly sad. It really feels as if this family is made of cursed blood. Around the table, so many of my greatest fears unfolded; sudden death, loss of love, sexual assault, child abuse, hopelessness and miscarriage. The lives of each character (bar only one) are troubled. The table begins to feel in these moments, bruised, sore and tired of moving onto the next thing , or perhaps that was just me. I must admit that the stories unfolding depressed me and were emotionally draining over time.
In saying this, there is a reason that tragedy in theatre is a staple; it gets to us. There’s catharsis to be gained, misery to be rid of and gratefulness to be felt as you sip lemonade and decompress after the show.
In Table, I felt the input of raw emotions and hard work. This show is memorable for its unique perspective, dazzling performances and generosity with feeling and ardour.
Table is on at the Seymour Centre from the 30th of July to the 17th of August
Director: Kim Hardwick
Featuring: Charles Upton, Stacey Duckworth, Mathew Lee, Julian Garner, Danielle King, Chantelle Jamieson, Annie Stafford, Brendan Miles and Nicole Pingon.
Above image by Jasmin Simmons