Theatre: Get messy with the ‘Table Mates’ at a primary school near you. Review by Stephanie Walker

I love cooking for friends. It is one of my most favourite things to do. From planning the menu and sourcing ingredients to the actual cooking process… It probably helps that I also love eating!  I believe that sharing a meal with someone is one of the best ways to build a relationship. Around a table everyone the same, everyone with a story to bring. It’s also one of my favourite family times and why – even though it’s sometimes painfully slow and a bit of a battle! – we always eat dinner with the children (most of the time anyway!).

I also love the theatre and so I was excited when I was asked to review Table Mates, the newest Theatre Alibi production at Exeter Phoenix this weekend.  I took along my big two girls, aged 4 and 6.

Theatre: Get messy with the 'Table Mates' at a primary school near you. Review by Stephanie Walker. Exploring Exeter

Table Mates is the story of 4 housemates who come together each evening to cook and eat together. The production uses live music and sound effects, that in my opinion complete the play perfectly. They draw you in and make the experience all-encompassing.

There’s also some beautiful choreography that enables you to be completely drawn into the stories being shared.  Throughout the play three of the characters are taken back by the flavour and smells of their food to memories from their childhood.  There is a young French dancer who was taken to England, a small boy sent to boarding school and 12-year-old getting a job on a milk float to help his family out. The actors switch seamlessly between roles in each scene. There’s no costume changes or scene changes. With a few props and some excellent acting we were transported to a small French village, into a farmhouse kitchen, and then to a bustling kitchen – overrun with children – in a terraced house in Birmingham.

Theatre: Get messy with the 'Table Mates' at a primary school near you. Review by Stephanie Walker. Exploring Exeter

My favourite story was acted by Jane Mason, the actress who plays “main”  she portrayed her childhood story so beautifully and my 6-year-old was really touched by her ‘sadness’ at being sent to England for a dance opportunity. We also had the chance to chat with Jane after the performance and she gave my two girls so much time and asked them such fantastic questions about their experience during the play.

Table Mates is on tour over the next few weeks at many Exeter Primary Schools, you can buy tickets even if you are not a member of any of the schools and they are all evening shows. Check out for a full schedule of shows.

Table Mates is great for both children and adults (some good jokes thrown in that definitely went over my girl’s heads but that I thoroughly appreciated!) Us Walker girls highly recommend, or in the words of my 4-year-old

Everyone should see it, it’s brilliant!


About the Authour: Stephanie Walker

Originally from Coventry with a slight detour via Wolverhampton and Luton, Steph moved to Exeter in January 2013. She lives in the St Thomas area of the city with her husband Chris, their 3 daughters and springer spaniel Freddie.

A primary school teacher gone rogue, Steph currently works for Makelunch a national charity seeking to end holiday hunger for children and also runs weekly singing sessions for toddlers and their grown ups.

Steph is passionate about building community, being honest about parenting (in particular our birth experiences and postnatal mental health) and food!