A Separate Table for am-dram Grand Dame

Poppy Flanagan
Poppy Flanagan
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Seasoned am-dram actress Poppy Flanagan lands key role in Rattigan’s classic study of lies, class and repressed passion

One of the first things former teacher Poppy Flanagan did when she moved to live in Lytham St Annes earlier this year from up the coast in Southport, was join a local am-dram group.

Now she is “over the moon” at getting a part with Fylde Coast Players in their forthcoming production of Separate Tables by Terence Rattigan at Lowther Pavilion.

“I didn’t expect to be offered a part so quickly after joining,” said Poppy who lives with husband John in Knowles Road, St Annes.

She began her amateur acting career with Preston Drama Club in the 70s, while living in Longton, and subsequently toured on the North West am-dram festival circuit, visiting the Isle of Man, Colwyn Bay and Skegness.

About 20 years ago she joined Southport Dramatic Club and appeared in numerous productions including The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, Private Lives by Noel Coward and Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor.

She has also directed several plays including Shadowlands by William Nicholson, Hobson’s Choice, by Harold Brighouse, Betrayal by Harold Pinter and Alan Ayckbourn’s Living Together.

“There has been a lot of Ayckbourn over the years,” said Poppy, who has never appeared in Separate Tables but did play Mrs Winslow in Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy.

In two connected one-act plays, Separate Tables is a finely-drawn study of lies, class judgements and repressed passions set in the dining room and lounge of a shabby but genteel hotel in Bournemouth in the 50s.

Poppy plays Anne Shankland, a former model who is terrified of growing old and facing life alone so engineers a “chance” meeting at the hotel with her ex-husband in the hope of rekindling the relationship.

“It’s a fantastic part and I’m thoroughly enjoying working with Fylde Coast Players, which is a friendly, welcoming group,” she said.

Theatre has been “in the blood” for Poppy since an early age and moving to Lytham St Annes is something of a return to her roots.

After studying at the Northern School of Music in Manchester – now the Royal Northern College of Music – and a postgraduate degree at St Martin’s College of Education in Lancaster, her first job was as a music teacher at the, then, Queen Mary School for Girls in Lytham St Annes where she spent three years.

Acting also runs in the family – her son Guy Flanagan is a professional actor who has appeared in many movies including Millions, Henry VIII and Dark Shadow as well as on TV in Holby City, Being Human, The Bill and The White Queen.

“We are delighted to have someone of Poppy’s experience and ability in the cast which is already strong but enhanced by her presence,” said director Jeff Redfern.

Separate Tables is at Lowther Pavilion from Wednesday, October 22 to Saturday 25, at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £9.50 (concessions £9) and are available from the Box Office on 01253 794221 or online at www.lowtherpavilion.co.uk.

Ron Ellis