This brilliant comic trilogy details the amorous exploits of Norman, assistant librarian, whose one aim is to make the women of his life happy—these women being, as it happens, three sisters, one of them his wife, who can’t wear contact lenses because “life with Norman is full of unexpected eye movements.” Each play stands uproariously on its own yet interlocks with the others to form an ingenious Chinese puzzle of successive relations. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (4)
It is not clear, even from Alan Ayckbourn's introduction, just what he has done here, and I notice it has confused some of the reviewers as well (for example, it is not three sisters but two sisters and a brother).
"The Norman Conquests" is a series of three comedic tellings of the same weekend get-together of a squabbling family in the country. Not quite Roshoman, as the plays do not duplicate the same action from different viewpoints, but rather three investigations by an author of the same setup.
And a fraught setup it is, too. As originally staged at Scarborough, the three plays were presented serially, although written to be independent as well. I imagine that, once the audience caught on, the third night (whichever that was) would have been a lot of fun, watching to see what Ayckbourn had come up with and following the same six actors in different iterations of the same role.
But it must be rather difficult for the actors.
Unfortunately, I don't expect ever to see "The Norman Conquests" staged together, as while the plays are quite simple, the triology would be rather ambitious for the typical little theater.
Too bad, because "The Norman Conquests" are a bit more than a country-house farce. Not much, but a bit.
Norman, the unlikely Casanova, is not made happy by his conquests. But his troubles are as nothing to the irritations he inflicts on the family. Ayckourn is a natural comedian -- I do not say comic -- who occasionally gets off a zinger but whose humor is the rarer kind, of character and situation.
And sly. I did not catch it until sitting down to write this review, because it is not material to the plots and tends to pass unnoticed among all the turmoil, but the conqueror, who intends to run off with Annie for a "dirty weekend," and who is reduced by holiday overbookings to settle for East Grinstead (apparently a joke to English playgoers, like Hicksville), had his eye set on a hotel in Hastings. Not exactly a kneeslapper, but clever.
great to have the three plays together to see how beautiful and clever the construction is - very funny and very human
The scripts for all three fantastic plays.
In the late 1970s PBS presented a hilarious trilogy of plays called "The Norman Conquests." I've been trying ever since to find them again. And here they are! This volume contains the scripts for all three of these amazing plays. Their premise: Norman is a real charmer who seduces (not necessarily sexually) everybody he meets. Each of the three plays takes place on a different stage. It's the same story and the same six characters, but seen from what happens only in each room in each play. It's an amazing accomplishment for a writer. This book carries an introduction by Ayckbourn that explains how he did it. And he says the plays are meant to be seen in any order. But I prefer the order given here: "Table Manners" (in the dining room), "Living Together" (the sitting room) and "Round and Round the Garden." If you haven't experienced it, the videos are available now (finally!), as well. The production (the same I saw on PBS) stars Tom Conti as an unforgettable Norman.
Acute social observation. Highly comical.
Terrific work (again!) from this major British playwright showing a disasterous family weekend where a would be Casanova sets his sights on his sister in law and the whole family ultimately become involved. Although written and set in the mid 1970s it remains just as funny (if not more so) now. All of the characters are classics and there are a feast of one liners. It really needs a stage production to be done justice though.
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