About the play
Terence Rattigan was born in 1911 and made an early success with light, romantic comedies such as French Without Tears (1936) and Love in Idleness (1944). His reputation was further increased by The Winslow Boy (1946) [performed by The Rep 1987] which won awards for best play of the year both in Britain and the USA.
His double-bill Harlequinade and The Browning Version (1948) [performed by The Rep 1998] achieved equal acclaim, but from the late fifties his well-made plays, with their rather conservative attitudes, seemed out of place in a theatre more interested in protest and satire.
Despite the critical disapproval to which he was subjected during the latter part of his life, he continued to practise his craft both in the theatre and in the cinema. His most impressive screenplays were The Way To The Stars (1945),
The V.l.P.s (1963) and The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965).
Separate Tables (1955) was obviously a vehicle for the talents of Margaret Leighton and Eric Portman who created the double-roles. It was later ﬁlmed, with David Niven and Deborah Kerr as the Major and Sybil and with the unlikely combination of Burt Lancaster and Rita Hayworth as John and Anne
Rattigan’s plays have remained part of the repertory of most English theatres ever since they were written and have also had wide appeal on television. This appeal must spring from his ability to give significance to the lives of fairly ordinary people, without having to resort to melodrama. rhetoric or caricature. His writing is uneven and at worst can sound stilted but no playwright handles human frailty in a more sensitive and economical manner.
Peter Legge (from the programme)
Miss Meacham .
Mrs. Shankland/Miss Railton-Bell
Mr. Malcolm/Major Pollock
Miss Tanner/Mrs. Stratton