Author Topic: The Norman Conquests - Chichester Festival Theatre  (Read 52 times)

Offline HtoHe

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The Norman Conquests - Chichester Festival Theatre
« on: October 07, 2017, 12:53:40 pm »
Alan Ayckbourn’s masterly trilogy examining aborted plans for a dirty weekend against the background of family members maintaining uneasy though surprisingly stable relationships and from three different perspectives over roughly the same period never fails to impress if the production is good.  And this Chichester Festival Production (which surely must go to the West End even if it doesn’t tour) is good.  ‘Farce’ hardly does the work justice, presenting theatregoers with the ironic feeling that uproarious laughter is not really appropriate here even though you (or at least I) consider the events and situations far more humorous than the works of, say, Ray Cooney whose contrived, implausible plot twists regularly bring the house down.  Perhaps we are on alert not to laugh too loud lest we miss the next gem.

The six characters are the same for each play – two married couples and two singles – all from the same family plus spouses with the exception of Tom (John Hollingworth), the amiable but gauche, slow-witted neighbour who is rather less than semi-attached to Annie, whose fate has been to stay on at the family home looking after selfish, needy  mother – the seventh (silent, unseen) character in the drama and one whose past sheds light on the behaviour of her offspring.  The pretty, gamine Jemima Rooper yet again (after One Man, Two Guvnors and Hand to God) gets to prove that she doesn’t need to trade on her femininity, playing the put-upon, often frumpy Annie to perfection.  The only quibble I had was that she left a big pause between the two words of my favourite epithet, ‘Nun’s knickers’, which, imo, didn’t work at all.  Sarah Hadland as Sarah is a little too close to Penelope Keith for my liking (the role, like Beverly in Abigail’s Party, is so closely associated with one actor that it must be an agonising decision whether to copy Keith/Steadman or try and find your own way in to the character and risk the disapproval of people with a fixed idea of how she should be) but fine all the same.   The same is true to a lesser extent of Reg but Jonathan Broadbent managed not to have me comparing him with Richard Briers.  Hattie Ladbury gives a very fine performance as Ruth – my favourite character - and Trystan Gravelle as the eponymous Norman, perhaps the most unlikely lothario in dramatic history, was also spot on; as was Hollingworth as Tom.

The set is in the round and, unlike the Liverpool production a few years ago, is completely changed for each constituent play rather than having all three sets on a revolve.  It’s well worth the trip to Chichester if you can get there and if there are any tickets left the three plays in a day discount makes it a bargain (I got very decent seats for £0 all in).  Highly recommended:

https://www.cft.org.uk/whats-on/event/table-manners#cast-and-creatives

Offline Jim Penn

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Re: The Norman Conquests - Chichester Festival Theatre
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 06:59:19 pm »
I got very decent seats for £0 all in...

How much? ;-)

Offline HtoHe

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Re: The Norman Conquests - Chichester Festival Theatre
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 10:16:05 pm »
Oh dear.  I blame the library computer. £60 for decent stalls seats for all three plays in one day!.