Chichester in the round for Alan Ayckbourn’s Norman Conquests trilogy

Jonathan Broadbent and Trystan Gravelle lead an ensemble cast for a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests at Chichester Festival Theatre this summer.

And, for the first time ever the festival theatre is being reconfigured to present the trilogy in the round.

Forming the rest of the company for Blanche McIntyre’s production, which runs from September 18 – October 28, are Sarah Hadland, John Hollingworth, Hattie Ladbury and Jemima Rooper.

This will be the Festival Theatre’s first ever ‘in-the-round’ production. A bank of seating on what is normally the rear part of stage will allow the play’s action to be seen from all sides.

The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of interconnecting plays – Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden – which look at the events of one family weekend from hilariously different viewpoints.

Each play can be enjoyed as a single performance or seen as one event in any sequence, either over different days or on trilogy days.

With pungent wit and sparkling ingenuity, Alan Ayckbourn fashions the thwarted desires and bittersweet absurdity of family life into a comic masterpiece.

An English country house. A summer weekend. A family gathering. Norman would like to seduce Annie, though he’s married to her sister, Ruth.

He’s also got his eye on Sarah, though she’s married to Reg – who is Annie and Ruth’s brother.

Tom, from next door, isn’t married to anyone: though he too nurses secret hopes beneath his stoical surface.

Table Manners – Saturday. 6pm. The dining room. Where no-one is looking forward to Annie’s limp salad, or her mother’s lethal home-made dandelion, parsnip or carrot wine.

Living Together – Saturday. 6.30pm. The sitting room. With a wind-up gramophone, a pouffe, magazines, and a very, very inviting fur rug.

Round and Round the Garden – Saturday. 5.30pm. The garden. It’s not the only thing that’s looking wild and very, very tangled.

Alan Ayckbourn is Britain’s most prolific and popular contemporary playwright with over eighty plays to his name.

Recent productions at Chichester include Way Upstream, Absurd Person Singular and Surprises. His new play The Divide will premiere at the Edinburgh Festival before transferring to the Old Vic this autumn.

Jonathan Broadbent (The Tempest/RSC, My Night with Reg/Donmar Warehouse) plays Reg and
Trystan Gravelle (Mr Selfridge/ITV, Aliens/E4, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire/National Theatre) plays Norman.

Sarah Hadland (Miranda, The Moonstone/BBC, Canvas/Minerva Theatre) plays Sarah and John Hollingworth (Poldark/BBC, The Power of Yes/National Theatre) is Tom.

Hattie Ladbury (Holby City, Call the Midwife/BBC, The Importance of Being Earnest/Festival Theatre) plays Ruth and Jemima Rooper (One Man Two Guvnors/National Theatre, West End & Broadway, Fearless/ITV) appears as Annie.

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