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On stage: 'Table Manners' a barrel of belly laughs


“Table Manners” is a “rollicking romp through the English countryside,” as characterized by artistic director Rhys Lovell in his curtain speech at the opening of this rib-tickling comedy on a blustery opening night.

Set in the 1970s, “Table Manners” is indeed a welcome gulp of intoxicating spring air. The sound design by director Joseph P. McDonnell and stage manager Grace Irvin squarely sets the show in the groovy ’70s with such hits as “Knock Three Times on the Ceiling if You Want Me.”

The entire play takes place in the dining room of the childhood home of Annie, Reg and Ruth. The scenic design by Jordan Gerow sets the stage beautifully for the battle and snark about to ensue with sliding pocket doors ready to be slammed with dramatic gusto.

Abby Scott, who plays Annie with subtlety and verve, has been caring for their bedridden mother all by herself for the last five years. Tom, perfectly portrayed with English restraint by Adam Alexander, is a regular visitor, has feelings for Annie, but is unable to express them.

Annie’s siblings have come for the weekend to care for Mother, because Annie has planned to go away for a little respite. She does not plan to go alone, and much to the hyperbolic consternation of her sister-in-law Sarah (Blair Coats), Annie is not planning to go away with Tom, but with her sister Ruth’s husband, Norman.

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When Norman’s first appears on stage he is wearing leopard pajamas, thanks to the eclectic and kitschy costume design by Clatie Fischer, and those pajamas say it all about Norman. Hilariously played by Heartland veteran Dave Krostal, Norman is desperate, smarmy, and full of life and love for his own acerbic wife, Ruth (Kayla Russell), and everybody else’s wife, too.

Brother Reg, played by John D. Poling with comic panache, is rather bored by it all, and just wishes for a good hot meal.

Get your reservations early. This gut-busting barrel of fun will certainly sell out and who couldn’t use an old-fashioned belly laugh?

Weiss is a freelance writer who reviews plays for The Pantagraph.

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