We all know that the kitchen tends to be the likeliest place in any house for people to congregate. The Ellingham kitchen is certainly where most of the action takes place in this show. Actually, it’s the kitchen table where most of the action takes place!
In addition to being the place where Martin prepares and eats food, it’s where he talks to Louisa, Edith, his mother, and Bert. It’s where he finds Pauline kissing Al and where he first kisses Louisa. It’s where he packs his things when he expects to move to London and where he gives Louisa the engagement ring. Later, he changes James’ diaper on a pad on the table, and Louisa does too. It’s while sitting at the kitchen table that Martin looks overwhelmed by the commotion and noise in the kitchen, and it’s over the kitchen table that Martin confronts Mike about his OCD. Louisa tries to use the kitchen table as a workspace but Martin objects — at least when it’s mealtime. The kitchen table functions as a means of keeping Martin and Louisa apart or as a setting to bring them together.
Many times, Louisa comes to the back kitchen door to talk to Martin and they sit at the table. She talks to him about her forthcoming interview for the school headmistress job while sitting across from him at the table, and it’s where he first professes his love for her. It’s also where he’s sitting when they have an altercation and he sits looking dumbfounded when she tells him she has to leave towards the end of season 5. In season 6, the kitchen table is where they entertain and where that dinner goes very wrong.
Although they have a perfectly nice living room, it’s rare that they use it. Martin has been shown sitting on the couch maybe 3 times in 6 seasons, and Louisa not at all. The house is small and their need for space comes up several times, but they’ve circumscribed the space even more by confining the action to the kitchen most of the time. Even when Ruth takes care of James, she stays at the kitchen table until she decides to lie on the couch to get some rest. Al joins her at the table, then Penhale joins them, and eventually Bert sits there too.
The kitchen table is a gathering place, an obstacle, a practical setting and a place where Martin has felt both comfortable alone and intruded upon at times. The kitchen table is often the place where families spend time together eating and talking so it’s not surprising that this show uses it as a frequent setting. But here it’s important because Martin dislikes going out and making him seem more confined in his own home stresses his social restraints. I’m impressed with the ways this one location has been used and find it pretty efficient for the filming of the show.
Originally posted 2013-10-09 20:04:55.