• Follow BBBway on Twitter

  • Boneau/Bryan-Brown on LinkedIn
  • This Just In:

  • BBBway Tweets

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • wordpress stats





The Old Vic production of Alan Ayckbourn’s comedy trilogy THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, directed by Matthew Warchus and featuring the original company from The Old Vic, recently opened on Broadway to raves at Circle in the Square (235 West 50th Street).  The production plays a limited run through Saturday, July 25. 

Here are some recent stories about the production:

Bergen Record

A Singular Connection with the audience

By Robert Feldberg

April 26, 2009

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, the extraordinarily funny revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s play trilogy, is a tough proposition for actors in more ways than one.

First, it requires unusual endurance.

Each of the full-length plays in the trilogy, which opened Thursday at Broadway’s Circle in the Square, is performed weeknights on a rotating schedule. That’s no problem.

On Saturdays, though, all three of the comedies – “Table Manners,” “Living Together” and “Round and Round the Garden” – are performed, in a day-into-night marathon.

“It can get exhausting,” said cast member Stephen Mangan.

While the 36-year-old British actor said remembering what play he’s in, and which lines are spoken when, is no longer an issue – “We did the show in London for four months, so all that is part of my DNA now” – the nature of the plays makes Saturdays an uphill climb.

All three tell the same story – about three couples spending a disastrously awful country weekend together – from different perspectives. Since the plays can be seen separately, the plot premise must be fully laid out in each one.

“By the third play, you really need to find the energy to get through the retelling of the facts,” said Mangan, who plays Norman, an egotistical serial seducer. “But just looking around at the 800 people watching gives you a jolt of energy. There’s nowhere to hide; you’re surrounded by the faces of the audience.”

New York Observer

Will New York fall to The Norman Conquests?

By John Heilpern

April 29, 2009

And so to the burning question: Which one of Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy of vintage 1973 English comedies, THE NORMAN CONQUESTS at Circle in the Square theater, must you see?

The first, Table Manners, is my favorite. Not only is it consistently, irresistibly funny; it contains a dinner-party scene so blissfully hilarious that I was on the floor laughing.

All three plays take place during the same absurdly traumatic country-house weekend. They can be seen separately and in no particular order, but they unfold chronologically. They reveal what’s happening from different perspectives, so that when a character exits the dining room during the first play, we see what he’s really up to in the sitting room during the second (Living Together). Or for that matter, who’s failing to seduce whom in the garden during the third (Round and Round the Garden).


Stormin’ Norman

Trilogy of romantic comedies turns into riotous affair

By Mike Bracken
April 27, 2009

That Norman is a busy fellow. In the course of three related plays in three related places during one hilarious weekend, he seduces three related women with varying degrees of success. 

Norman was last seen on these shores more than 30 years ago, when a starry American cast brought THE NORMAN CONQUESTS to life on Broadway.  This time, at Circle in the Square, Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy features an entirely British company, fresh from a much-lauded run in London.  While there are no household names among them, these actors, superbly directed by Matthew Warchus, provide some of the best ensemble work you’re likely to see on either side of the Atlantic.

American Theater Web

The Norman Conquests – A Comedic Trilogy Triumphs on Broadway

By Andy Propst

April 24, 2009

When was the last time you heard laughter greet a character who simply walked on stage? Here’s an even rarer occurrence: exit applause for leaving the stage carrying a wastepaper basket. Believe it or not, you’ll find this happening in Living Together, one of the three plays that comprise Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious and exhilarating trilogy THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, which opened last night at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

I use this moment as an example of the delightful cumulative effect of seeing all three plays in this nearly 8-hour cycle. For audience members who have seen another of the plays, Table Manners, the moment in “Living” has already been set up. In “Manners,” Reg (Paul Ritter) is ordered by his wife Sarah (Amanda Root) to go into the living room to find out what’s happening. He does so, and in “Manners,” he returns sheepishly with the trash-basket. There’s a laugh, of course, when this takes place, but when theatergoers have moved onto the second play, the effect is simply hysterical.

Similar moments abound in the plays, and can be appreciated regardless of the order in which theatergoers have seen them (“Conquests” can be taken in during all-day Marathon performances on Saturdays or on separate days during the week).

Good Day New York

Interview with Kevin Spacey

April 27, 2009

Kevin Spacey discusses The Old Vic production of THE NORMAN CONQUESTS.


Backstage with Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey gives The Post backstage access to the opening night of THE NORMAN CONQUESTS.

Tickets for THE NORMAN CONQUESTS are available through Telecharge at 212-239-6200, online at www.Telecharge.com and at the Circle in the Square box office (235 West 50th Street). 


Brief Encounter with Stephen Mangan

By Robert Simonson

Meet Norman. Of THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, that is.

Norman is the center of all the comic consternation taking place in the trilogy of interlocking plays that is Alan Ayckbourn’s 1973 opus of love sought, love won and love spurned, connections made and connections broken, between six men and women, most of them somehow related, during an emotionally harrowing weekend at a country home in England. The London-born production has been uniformly hailed by critics and is selling briskly. Playing the incorrigible Norman, an assistant librarian whose libido needs no assistance, is Stephen Mangan, a well-known British actor who is making his Broadway debut. Mangan talked to Playbill.com about his life as a dog.

Playbill.com: Have you ever done anything like this – a play trilogy?
Stephen Mangan: No, I don’t think I have. It’s quite daunting, to pick up that wedge of script at the beginning and read through it. It’s very exciting as well, to spend that much time with one character.

Playbill.com: How did you handle it? Did you rehearse one play at a time?
SM: What we did is we elongated the plays into one long, six-hour play, with all the scenes in chronological order and we worked through the play a couple times like that. Sometimes you exit one play and enter into another play. It’s great to rehearse it knowing exactly what state of mind you are in as you crossing from the living room into the dining room, for example, or from the dining room to the garden. Then we jumped back and started rehearsing the individual plays. It’s something to put these jigsaws in your head at first, it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s not only the sheer amount of lines you have to memorize, but you have to map the whole weekend. Once you get on top of it, though, it’s exhilarating.


Opening Night: The Norman Conquests

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, a trilogy of plays, arrives from London with a crackerjack ensemble.

Tickets for THE NORMAN CONQUESTS are available through Telecharge at 212-239-6200, online at www.Telecharge.com and at the Circle in the Square box office (235 West 50th Street). 


%d bloggers like this: