The Norman Conquests



  • A sequence of three two-act comedies by Alan Ayckbourn,first performed in 1973 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round,Scarborough, where Ayckbourn was artistic director.In 1993, 20 years after its premiere, Ayckbourn directed a revivalof the work at the same theater. There was another successful revivalat the Old Vic in 2008.

    The plays depict the same dreadful but hilarious event, aweekend family reunion, from different vantage points: Table Mannerstakes place in the dining room during a disastrous meal (with oneguest sitting on a low stool with his head barely above the table),Living Together in the sitting room, and Round and Roundthe Garden outside. Although this is the official sequence, thecomedies can be seen separately or in any order.

    The story begins with a married couple, Reg and Sarah, arrivingat the house of his invalid mother to give Reg's sister, Annie, aweekend's break from caring for her. They are joined by Norman, Reg'sbrother-in-law, and Tom, Annie's wishy-washy boyfriend. Unknown tothe others, Norman, a lustful assistant librarian, is taking Annieaway for a dirty weekend. Sarah, who also fancies Norman, tries tokeep him free for herself by goading Tom into proposing to Annie.When Annie backs out of the dirty weekend, Norman gets drunk and revealstheir affair. Sarah rings Norman's wife Ruth, who arrives the nextday quite unperturbed. On Sunday, the family lunch degenerates intobitter squabbling. As the visitors begin to leave on Monday morning,Norman deliberately crashes the family cars to cause a delay in whichhe can continue his flirting.