First created during lockdown, Sebastian Kainth’s Table Manners has gone through several iterations and is now a two-act show produced by Freaky Geese.
Rich (Dan Le Friec) and Fran (Molly Barton, whose solo play Dead Outdoorsy I reviewed earlier this year) attend a dinner party at the house of Rich’s friends, Lisa (Iona Crampton) and Kevin (Kainth).
The play has definite Abigail’s Party vibes as Lisa bullies and belittles her boring husband, a man so set in routine he has eaten cheese on toast for lunch every day for seven years.
Lisa is the most frightful hostess: nosy, snobbish, vicious, and self-obsessed. However, she has a secret that is fairly easy to guess early on, and which is laboured all through the background of act one.
Directed by Rhys Ashcroft, who also plays John, who barges into the ‘Come Dine With Me At Home’ at the close of act one, this still feels like a one-act show stretched fairly thin.
The second half feels more farcical, with intentionally bad jokes (wordplay at its best and worst), ghastly but good work from Crampton, and a twist ending, which drew gasps from a full house but didn’t really belong.
Table Manners could either be a full farce, with its bottle and door slams, catty outbursts, and outrageous tales (the vicar didn’t need a conclusion, honestly).
Or it could be a thriller turned on its head with the ending more strongly employed and the audience as invested parties, and the OTT style toned down a bit.
Whichever, in my view, it doesn’t need an interval and would have better momentum at 90 minutes straight through. I still laughed and enjoyed this show a lot.
Freaky Geese Productions remains a young company with great ideas, and I continue to watch with interest as they develop new projects.
You can watch Table Manners at Drayton Arms Theatre (near Gloucester Road tube station) until 23 Sep with tickets here.