takes an artistic director with great foresight to judge the audience
reaction to one play but three is another thing altogether.
Rep has Jonathan Church at the helm and his choice of material has
filled the auditorium frequently with 'house full' signs being seen
he can be found directing the trilogy. These Ayckbourn plays come
from an altogether more relaxing time when certainly mobile telephones,
texting and even computers were not found everywhere let alone in
the home. The people are believable but kindly and never vulgar.
those who lived through the 1970s it is a little like a trip down
memory lane and certainly when I first saw this play it was ground
breaking stuff. Yes, I saw them all in Scarborough in the early
1970s so that gives away my age! There was a buzz in the audience
then and it is still there today.
Ayckbourn is famous for experimenting with the theatrical form but
the concept of three plays covering a disastrous family weekend
and viewed from the eyes of the different and quite diverse characters
was the biggest project he had ever undertaken, the idea being formed
back in 1971. It took until 1973 for the self-contained plays to
be presented as The Norman Conquests.
and Round the Garden' features: Sarah and Reg arriving to relieve
housebound Annie for the week. Sarah, who is hysterically obsessive,
is horrified to discover that Annie plans to spend her weekend away
with Norman in of all places East Grinstead, well it was the summer
and Hastings was full!
is the assistant librarian husband of Sarah's sister, who believes
he is away at a conference. Sarah tries to send Norman home and
turn Annie towards Tom - the local dim vet - with hilarious consequences.
You may recall a highly successful television adaptation featuring
Tom Conti, Richard Briers, Penelope Keith and Penelope Wilton but
it is sometime since all three plays were produced in such cracking
form as this.
under a table
designer Simon Higlett has produced a superb set continuing in the
tradition of outstanding design at The Rep. I doubt you will ever
see better than his design and sets.
actors, Michael Begley as Norman the love of all women, Tony Boncza
as the potty vet, Caroline Faber as Annie, Leda Hodgson as Sarah,
Paul Raffield as estate agent Reg and Katherine Rogers as business
woman Ruth are all faultless.
whole production was excellent and left me wondering if I could
really remember after all these years just how the other two plays
worked out. If you'd like to find out, visit the Rep and enjoy The
Norman Conquests as much as we did today. There is no doubting this
is first class comedy.