The Concord Journal
Thur April 9, 1981
'Table Manners' origins explained
By Catherine W. McCue  

Journal Correspondent

The Concord Players' next production is Alan Ayckbourn's comedy, "Table Manners," scheduled to begin April 17.

The setting of the play is the dining room of an English country house during a weekend which all six characters of the play spend together, not altogether by their own design.

The characters consist of a brother and sister and theri spouses, and another sister and her dilatory suitor. The romantic relationships and interactions among these six people result in delightfully amusing situations and conversations, at once believable and witty.

Ayckbourn is a British actore, director, and above all, playwright. He has written and produced a number of successful plays in the past decade. In 1975, five of his plays were running in London's West End, and his work has been produced all over the world. He has also written radio drama for BBC Leeds Studio since 1965. He was for some years artistic director of the Theatre in the Round of the Library Theatre Company in Scarborough, Yorkshire.

"Table Manners" is part of a trilogy, "The Norman Conquests," written originally for that theatre. His description of his planninf for the trilogy provides an interesting insight into his approach to playwriting.

The theatre was small and on a limited budget; hence one stage set was desirable. The company could afford no more than six actors or actresses; hence the play could havoe only six characters. The audience was largely made up of transients, summer visitors, who might like to see a series of plays or might wish to commit only a single night.

So Ayckbourn tells his story three times, once as we perceive it, watching events in the dining room in "Table Manners;" once as we watch in the garden, in "Round and Round the Garden;" and once in the living room in "Living Together." The three re-tellings put together give us the fullest picture of characters and events, but each play is a complete account of the plot.

"Table Manners" was first performed in this country in New York City in 1975 and received high praise from New York drama critics. It was included in "Best Plays of 1975-76" and in 1976 received the Joseph Kay award from the Kansas City Star.