Norman Conquests (Table Manners / Living Together / Round And Round The Garden)

  • Date:
    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Genre: Comedy
    Opened 6 Oct 2008
    Written: by Alan Ayckbourn
    Directed: Matthew Warchus
    Cast: Amelia Bullmore (Ruth), Jessica Hynes (Annie), Stephen Mangan (Norman), Paul Ritter (Reg). Ben Miles (Tom), Amanda Root (Sarah).
    Synopsis: Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden are structured to allow each play to be enjoyed independently or as a trilogy in any combination. The action of each play takes place simultaneously and follows the same six characters in the same English country house from Saturday evening to Monday morning. Believing it his mission in life to make women happy by showering them with love, Norman makes the most of every opportunity to seduce his sister-in-law Annie , charm his brother-in-law’s wife Sarah and woo his wife Ruth during a disastrous weekend of squabbling, eating, drinking and fondling.

    What the popular press had to say.....
    MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Although Matthew Warchus's production is often explosively funny, I was reminded this time of the trilogy's Chekhovian undertow. However much we laugh, the plays actually deal with loneliness, frustration, familial tensions and thwarted lust." FIONA MOUNTFORD for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Assured revival of his masterful 1973 trilogy...The action of the three plays — which can be seen in any order, although I would recommend starting with Table Manners, the funniest and most illuminating — runs simultaneously, from the Saturday night to Monday morning of a fractious family gathering." GERALD BERKOWITZ for THE STAGE says, "Has all the Ayckbourn signatures of clever construction, delightful and frequently surprising comedy, and the exposure of the hidden sadness below the middle class veneer of respectable contentment." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "There are many blissful moments in these three plays, concerning a family gathering in a crumbling country house that left me physically helpless with hilarity. But the humour in Ayckbourn is rarely simple, and often dark...Matthew Warchus's sharply observed production, staged in the round in an ingeniously reconfigured Old Vic auditorium, finds all the strengths of these terrific plays with the help of an outstanding cast." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "I left Matthew Warchus’s fine revival feeling that the sage of Scarborough has written little if anything more ambitious, daring and emotionally punchy than his 1974 trilogy, The Norman Conquests." Sarah Hemming for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Matthew Warchus’s magnificent revival demonstrates that in Ayckbourn’s hands comedy can be every bit as devastating and relentless as Greek tragedy. His production is often gloriously funny, but the desolation that seeps out over the course of the three plays is heart-rending."

    External links to full reviews from popular press
    The Guardian
    The Daily Telegraph
    The Times
    Financial Times

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