The Laden Table was a theatrical snapshot of Sydney’s Jewish and Muslim family cultures, superimposed to really drive home the humanity and similarities. On entering the intimate King’s Cross Theatre, the first thing to jump out at me was the unusual way they’d set up the room — stage in the centre, with the audience seating on both sides. This setup proved to be a key component in the way the theatre group presented the overlapping stories of the two families involved.
The comedic aspects of the play were very effective. I found the grandparent characters in each family to be particularly relatable. The tragic aspects I thought still needed a little tweaking. The fantasy scenes were fantastic, with the rest of the cast staring intensely at the actor delivering the monologue.
I’d have liked to have seen more of that, or those scenes explored a little more. There were other points in time where the tragedy was described, but it didn’t hit me in the gut quite as much.
The political message was one we’ve all heard before, but it was effective to see it so clearly played out. In the Middle East, both sides have experienced loss, and it’s difficult to let go of past traumas.
The production was enjoyable, with a few standout points worth mentioning. The room setup was a great idea, flawlessly planned and executed. The mirror image acting was also impressive and original, especially when the two families moved around the table and mingled with each other, but continued to act in their separate scenes.
Jessica Paterson, playing the lead character Ruth Fishman sparkled, keep an eye on her face for an extra dimension to this play. Actually scratch that. Focus extra hard on everything in this production, because the attention to detail was thorough and there’s a lot there to absorb.
Liv S. is a creature of warm weather, negronis, and writing. She can usually be found elbow deep in a pile of chicken wings. Check out her musings @callmememphisjones.