Bad behaviour and brilliant comedy in Table Manners at The Capitol

Table Manners plays Horsham's Capitol from June 29 to July 1
Table Manners plays Horsham's Capitol from June 29 to July 1

Don’t be fooled into thinking Alan Ayckbourn is just light-hearted, superficial, frothy comedy, says Marcus Hutton.

“Acykbourn is often seen as a very light comedy writer. But he is not. He is dark, extremely dark about people.”

Marcus Hutton stars in Table Manners at The Capitol

Marcus Hutton stars in Table Manners at The Capitol

You can see Marcus’ point in Table Manners, which plays Horsham’s Capitol from June 29 to July 1.

“People are completely dissected in the play (which is part of The Norman Conquests trilogy). They are having affairs, they are behaving badly, they are saying one thing and doing another. You see the darkness in the characters. But at the same time, on the top of it all, is a brilliant comedy.”

The play depicts the interplay between six characters over a weekend in the dining room as assistant librarian Norman tries to bring happiness to the lives of the three women present.

“We have been doing this play for quite a while now, since last September. And I never get bored. It’s so well written. What Ayckbourn is absolutely brilliant at is absolutely nailing the inconsistencies and the hypocrisies of human beings in a very funny way.

“What is also so clever about Ayckbourn is that he wrote this as a trilogy, and you can see all the plays, or you can see just one without the other two. He wrote them so they can stand alone, but at the same time a character will walk one out of one room into another room in one of the two other plays. This one is set in the dining room. Another is set in the garden. Another is set in the living room. Ayckbourn must just have such a huge brain to make that work, that characters can walk from one play to the other.

“The plays are called The Norman Conquests because they are about Norman who is a kind of libertine. He tries to seduce all the women. They are called The Norman Conquests because they are about Norman’s Conquests. It’s about relationships, it’s about marriage, it’s about being childless, it’s about love and it’s about yearning.”

Marcus plays Reg – brother to Annie and Ruth, children of a dragon mother, still alive, bed-ridden and never seen.

“Reg is probably on the Asperger spectrum. He is an estate agent. He is immature. He makes jokes. He has his clothes laid out on the bed for him. He is like a little boy. He is married to Sarah who is extremely frustrated. He is obsessed with food, and he just wants a quiet life. He is like a lot of men. He is an everyman character in some ways. Reg doesn’t like life to be complicated and it constantly is. He just wants to eat and to play golf and to tousle his children’s hair and to go to bed. He is also insensitive. There is a lot of humour in the character, but his wife does fall for Norman’s charms – because she has a lot to put up with!”

Marcus trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Theatre includes work at Nottingham Playhouse, The Manchester Royal Exchange, The Wolsey Ipswich, Riverside Studios, The Oxford Stage Company, The Exeter Northcott, The Horseshoe Basingstoke, the Colchester Mercury and many more.

Television appearances include Holby City (BBC), Dr Who (BBC), Lovejoy (BBC), Diana: Her True Story (NBC), The New Professionals (Thames), The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries (BBC), Smack the Pony (Channel 4) and Hollyoaks (Channel 4). Marcus is probably best known for his two-year stint playing regular character Nathan Cuddington in Brookside (Channel 4).

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