Separate Tables, Terence Rattigan’s famous play from 1954, consists of two linked one-act plays set in the Beauregard Private Hotel, a run-down hotel in Bournemouth, England. In one, a divorcee tracks down her former husband in order to resume a kind of half-life with him. In the other, a repressed young spinster offers moral support to a fake major accused of importuning women in a local cinema. Rattigan wrote an alternative version in which it is revealed the major was a homosexual thus insinuating the major was pursuing illicit sex not with women but with other males in that local Bournemouth cinema.
Separate Tables premiered in 1954 at the St James’s Theatre in London on 22 September. Directed by Peter Glenville and starring Margaret Leighton and Eric Portman in the leading roles, it received rave reviews; critics unanimously hailing the play as ‘a triumph’. The production was later taken to Broadway.
Separate Tables has been made into film three times. The first time was in 1958 when Rattigan and co-writer John Gay were nominated for an Academy Award for screenwriting. (David Niven won the Best Actor Oscar and Wendy Hiller won Best Supporting Actress). A re-make was produced by the BBC TV in 1970, directed by Alan Cooke with Geraldine McEwan (Sibyl/Anne); Eric Porter (Major Pollock/John Malcolm); Annette Crosbie (Miss Cooper); Robert Harris (Mr.Fowler)’Hazel Hughes (Miss Meacham); Pauline Jameson (Mrs. Railton-Bell); Cathleen Mesbitt (Lady Matheson).
Here is the third film version, John Schlesinger’s television production made in 1983. Great performances from a stunning all-star cast.
Running time: 58’30”
Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan, CBE (10 June 1911 – 30 November 1977) was one of England’s most popular mid 20th century dramatists. His plays are typically set in an upper-middle-class background. He wrote The Winslow Boy (1946), The Browning Version (1948), The Deep Blue Sea (1952) and Separate Tables (1954), among many others.
A troubled homosexual, Rattigan viewed himself as an outsider. His plays centred largely on issues of failed relationships, sexual frustration, and a world of repression and reticence.
- Home Box Office (HBO)
- Harlech Television (HTV) (1983) (UK) (all media)
- Home Box Office (HBO) (1983) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- ITV Studios (UK) (TV)
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (2009) (World-wide) (all media)