by Tanya Ronder.
The Shed Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX To 18 May 2013.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat Wed, Sat, Sun 3pm.
Audio-described 11 May 11 3pm
Captioned Thur16 May.
Runs: 2hr 20min One min interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 23 April:
Table in The Shed makes good theatre.
Tanya Ronder’s Table is an unusual tale of family history down through the decades built around the idea of an inanimate object holding family secrets.
The opening production of The Shed, the temporary square box used whilst the Cottesloe is being over-hauled, it’s a perfect choice. The Shed itself is something between Kilburn’s Tricycle and the Cottesloe, a three-sided arena framed by black railings, both sturdy and open. And like a garden shed it holds – and generates – a good deal of heat.
Similarly Rufus Norris’s production is both delicate and beautifully constructed as it flits backwards and forwards between time-frames interwoven by hymns and songs sung with glorious pitch and harmony by the small, incredibly versatile cast.
The result is an extraordinarily moving evocation of Englishness, by way of Africa, spanning 120 years and set in sundry locations – from Lichfield to Tanganyika, Herefordshire and south London.
It starts with a table of the large wooden kitchen variety, lovingly hand-crafted by David Best in 1871 at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth in a ceremony of daring brevity and simplicity setting a tone which shimmers somewhere between Lark Rise to Candleford, The Village and a dozen contemporary dramas about marital strife.
Through it all hovers and then ultimately dominates the figure of Paul Hilton’s indelible Gideon, the illegitimate off-spring of their grand-daughter Sarah. Wraith-thin, and resembling something from the Old Testament, Gideon is both victim (his mother, a novice nun in Africa, mated with a hunter who saved her from a devouring leopard) and something of a wandering, lost soul. Through him we encounter nuns, 1970s hippies and prior to him WW1 Edwardian England. And always at the centre there is the table round which people gather, under which family members hide as children, on which names are carved and even at one point, disfigured when its legs are sawed off.
Table was devised over a period of time and partly based on true stories from Tanzania. It’s is not without its cryptic demands. But whatever its occasional drawbacks, it remains a memorable, wondrous creation, a credit to all involved.
Albert/Orion: Daniel Cerqueira.
Elizabeth/Sarah: Rosalie Craig.
Finley/Anthony/Chris: Jonathan Cullen.
Jack/Gideon: Paul Hilton.
Mother Superior/Michelle/Barbara: Penny Layden.
Sister Hope/Stacey/Veronique: Sarah Niles
Margaret/Sister Babette/Aisha: Maggie Service.
David/Julian: Michael Shaeffer.
Sister Ruth/Su-Lin/Jess: Sophie Wu.
Director: Rufus Norris.
Designer: Katrina Lindsay.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Rich Walsh.
Music: David Shrubsole.
Movement: Javier De Frutos.
Company Voice work: Jeannette Nelson.
Dialect coach: Richard Ryder.
Digital Art: Emma Pile.
World Premiere of Table was at, The Shed, London, 9 April 2013.