Triumphant return for Rossendale Players with Terrence Rattigan classic
The curtain finally came up once again for the Rossendale Players after an enforced absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the wait was worth it.
Running this week, the Rossendale Players present Terrence Rattigan's "Separate Tables" at their intimate, but socially-distanced, New Millennium Theatre home in Waterfoot.
An ensemble piece, David West directs a talented cast headed by Ben Ventress who shines in two pivotal roles - those of embittered and divided socialist John Malcolm and closet homosexual Major Pollock.
The two characters, in each half of the play, are the main focus of Rattigan's morality tale set in the Beauregard Private Hotel in Bournemouth, where resident guests play out their prejudices centred around the lives of the two main protagonists played with great dash by the chameleon-like Ben Ventress.
Set in the early 1950s, the play's themes centre around the repressive atmosphere of that period, notably its treatment of gay people, a very personal experience for Rattigan who himself was gay.
The very contemporary issues of domestic violence and drug addiction also dealt with in the play mean this is no archaic whimsy, but a production which resonates with audiences today.
Ventress is ably supported by Pauline Shallicker, whose low-key portrayal of the sympathetic hotelier Miss Cooper gives some degree of hope to his two conflicted characters.
Comic relief, albeit embodying the prejudices of the time,is provided in the form of Mrs Railton-Bell, performed by Carole Bardsley, alongside fellow upper-crust eccentrics Lady Matheson and Miss Meacham, played with similar comic vigour by Sue Gill and Christine West.
Special mention must also go to Rebecca Clarkson who plays the two sympathetic roles of Anne Shankland and Sybil Railton-Bell, equally lonely characters.
Stephen Claxon, in the role of pompous twit Charles Stratton, sees his character redeemed in the second half, offering a potentially uplifting reassurance to the aforementioned major.
Rebecca Carney, Eleanor Connell, Simon Hall and Kathryn Lewis round out an impressive, large cast who showed no sign of stage rustiness despite the enforced absence.
"Separate Tables" runs until Saturday September 18th (excluding Monday) at the New Millennium Theatre, Burnley Road East, Waterfoot.
To book tickets visit www.ticketsource.co.uk/therossendaleplayers or call 0333 666 3366.