HUNTSVILLE – As longtime fans of playwright Alan Ayckbourn, John and Marion McTavish are directing what they dub one of Ayckbourn’s funniest works, Table Manners, which is in the midst of rehearsals.
The cast of Table Manners rehearses a dinner scene on Jan. 29 at Trinity United Church. Read the story for more on the upcoming performances. Left to right, Jamie Jordan, Stephen Morton, Roger Bird, Meg Jordan, Karen Jeffries and Jennifer Creasor.
/ Mandi Hargrave
Table Manners is the first in a trilogy titled The Norman Conquests. The three plays, Table Manners, Living Together and ‘Round and ‘Round the Garden, follow a family over the course of a weekend.
However, each play was written to stand on its own as the story focuses on an extended family of two sisters, an older brother and their partners.
The family is a bit dysfunctional, like most, as the members despise each other while also unable to get enough of each other, with an affair thrown in for good measure.
“The humour is kind of organic, it wells up from within the characters. It doesn’t traffic in humorous putdowns or gag lines, it’s deeper than that,” said John McTavish. “Ayckbourn sort of gets inside the characters and makes them intrinsically funny and intrinsically poignant so that you still laugh a lot. In fact, you often laugh more but you don’t laugh over gag lines. You laugh over the situation itself.”
McTavish said Ayckbourn meshes comedy and tragedy well, often in the same scene.
“People will be laughing their heads off and then suddenly they realize there’s somebody who’s being hurt in the play and they’ll feel like crying and yet they can’t stop laughing,” he said.
Local theatre lovers will enjoy the performances of some of Muskoka’s best-known actors and some rising stars said McTavish. Roger Bird, Jamie Jordan, Jennifer Creasor, Karen Jeffries, Meg Jordan and Stephen Morton will all deliver in their performances later this month at Trinity United Church.
“The Trinity Drama Group is well known for its productions of theatre-in-the-round,” said McTavish. “Theatre-in-the-round allows for an intimacy that is very special. Nobody is more than five feet away from the action … one becomes aware of how expressive the entire body is.”
The play will be performed in Trinity’s gym, but McTavish said once the lights go out the audience will forget they’re in a gym as all they will see and hear are the actors.
The play will run Feb. 22 to 24 and March 1 to 3. Tickets are available at the church office or Treasures and Trophies for $15 each. Proceeds will be donated to the church.
“Everyone is welcome to come laugh with us,” said McTavish.