Review: High Tor Players serve up a winner in Table Manners

Few sights can be more heartening to a company than seeing a large audience.

Saturday, 9th April 2016, 10:41 am
Updated Saturday, 9th April 2016, 10:51 am

High Tor Players have always delivered quality performances but viewing figures dwindled for a number of years.

This week the re-energised group are proving that they are back at the top of the table, attracting a respectable 100-strong audience to Ashover Parish Hall last night (Friday) and a sizeable crowd to Youlgreave the night before.

Comedy scripts are always a winner but it takes a talented cast to put flesh on the bones and keep their viewers entertained.

Alan Aykbourn’s Table Manners is a study in human relationships with all the emotions that involves. The play revolves around a bickering family spending a weekend cooped up in a house.

Alex Mastin is impressive as Annie, the downtrodden daughter caring for her sick mum whose brother-in-law offers her a temporary escape route. But things don’t pan out...

Lesley Kraushaar rises to the challenge of a demanding script, giving a lovely performance as bossy, highly-strung and image-conscious Sarah.

The show is owned lock, stock and barrel by Chris Gale as the likeable, infuriating Norman, a testosterone-charged assistant librarian.

He brings the house down as he tries to woo Annie in his pyjamas, offers comfort to Sarah and irritates his fellow house guests by being overly chirpy at breakfast time.

His long-suffering, unsupecting wife Ruth is played by Susan Devaney.

The other partners are played by Mark Poole in the role of Sarah’s hubby Reg, whose character stuffs his face yet complains about the sparsity of food and Richard Bryant’s as Annie’s slow-on-the-uptake boyfriend Tom.

All the action takes place around a dining table where the cast serves up some deliciously funny scenes.

Table Manners is directed by Liz McKenzie. The final performance is at Wirksworth Town Hall this evening (Saturday, April 9) at 7.30pm.

You’d better get there early if you want a ringside seat - the audience began queuing to get in at Ashover nearly an hour before the curtain went up.