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Table, National Theatre

Tanya Ronder

Directed by Rufus Norris 
Pros: Outstanding acting and direction. A beautiful new space which re-defines ‘temporary’ venues.
Cons: I’d be clutching at straws. Maybe that it gets a little warm in The Shed!
Our Verdict: Unmissable theatre in the London’s most exciting new venue.
Courtesy of The Telegraph
It’s not every day that the National Theatre launches a new venue. Although it is sad that the Cottesloe is being closed, we know that it will rise again in its new incarnation as the Dorfman when its refurbishment is complete. Fortunately in the meantime the NT has built a mysterious red box on the Southbank: The Shed. Understandably I was rather excited to venture into this temporary (1 year) performance space for the first time: the NT have ‘busted out the big guns’ to ensure the success of the opening show, with Rufus Norris – the award winning Associate Director of the National Theatre – at the helm of a piece of new writing by Tanya Ronder, Table.
Table is a play based on a simple idea. Many of us will have sat at a dining table at home, or absent-mindedly gazed at an old desk while at school, and noted the various scratches, marks and etchings on its surface. The thought occurs that every one of those imperfections has a story behind it, from the generations of people who have used the piece of furniture before. This is the idea behind Ronder’s script. The central character in this play is the Table, which silently witnesses the trials and tribulations of probably seven generations of a family’s history. It is a beautifully crafted script, which engrosses the viewer and leads them on an epic journey in a timescale alien to us humans: the lifespan of a table as it accumulates bumps, scratches, etchings and stains. At times hysterically funny, at times heart-wrenching, and occasionally heart-warming, this is a ruthlessly well-penned script.
Rufus Norris takes this play and brings it to life with flair and passion. The Shed is a very intimate space, and the staging of the performance draws the audience in. The only piece of set is the eponymous table, which is a silent witness to the action throughout the show. Norris’ talent is obvious in the details: at one stage the Table is subtly moved on the small square performance area and the whole dynamic of the stage changes dramatically. His cast delivered honest and moving performances, which range from being funny to being harrowing. Although it took a little while to get into, Norris’s production of Table is one which swells up and takes you by surprise. At the interval, I left the auditorium impressed. At the end of the show I left the auditorium overwhelmed.
Table is a show which re-affirms the NT as the powerhouse of British theatre. Only an institution of this quality could successfully orchestrate the construction of an entirely new venue, custom made from timber and steel, and open it with a world-class, unforgettable production of an epic tale. An epic tale about a table. They make it look too easy. 
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below! 

Table runs at the National Theatre until 18th May 2013.
Box Office: 020 7452 3244 or book online at

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