“I hate this table” is the first line uttered in Tanya Ronder’s TABLE.
It is repeated again at the end of the play, but by then the beautiful crafting of the writing and the exquisitely precise staging of this production defies anyone to mimic the line.
On the contrary, audiences are most likely to enthuse “I love this TABLE”.
Truth in title, TABLE features, front and centre, a large wooden table, hewn from hardy timber, the work of human hands, in the case of the play’s narrative, by master craftsman, David Best, a present to his wife on their wedding day, a practical piece of furniture become legacy of love passed down through generations.
Furnished from the forest, the table is emblematic of a family tree, and TABLE charts that genealogy in a saga whose roots run deep and the various branches provide a rich canopy of character, incident, drama and comedy.
A superb ensemble cast – Stacey Duckworth, Julian Garner, Chantelle Jamieson, Danielle King, Matthew Lee, Brendan Miles, Nicole Pingon, Annie Stafford and Charles Upton – set this TABLE with a bounty of hopes, hurts, hang-ups and humour, playing out five generations of the Best family from early 20th Century to present day, encompassing world wars, migration to Africa, repatriation, reconciliation and surrogacy.
No soggy family saga this, TABLE has the efficacy of truth stamped in every word of the script and every choice in performance.
Director Kim Hardwick’s simply elegant production not only boasts very high performance proficiency in the playing but also superbly realised technical expertise.
Martin Kinnane’s lighting is laser sharp in pinpointing emotional and geographical space and Nate Edmondson’ music composition and sound design, especially the mixing Swahili song with the Christian chant of Kyrie Eleison, is simultaneously poignant, powerful and playful.
Tempestuous and boisterous, a seat at this TABLE is an invitation to a feast.