Theatre in Wales

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NORMAN  CAN YOU RESIST HIM? In just ten days time, Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre Company will go on stage and reduce its audience to helpless laughter in the opening performance of Alan Ayckbourn’s award winning comedy The Norman Conquests. [22 July]

Little did Artistic Director Peter Doran know when he negotiated the performing rights for this highly entertaining trilogy of comedies that it was about to become one of the most celebrated play titles in Britain this year.

The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of plays which take place during a catastrophic and hilarious family weekend in the country. A weekend of eating, drinking and misunderstanding in the dining room (Table Manners), the living room (Living Together) and the garden (Round and Round The Garden). Ingeniously, each exit in one play turns out to be an entrance in another.

Initially the challenge to Ayckbourn of writing a trilogy was the viability of presenting such a work in his home town of Scarborough which relied on the summer season tourist trade. Alan knew that, for the season to work, the plays had to stand independently of each other and to be seen in any order to be fully enjoyed … like a three-ended ball of string, it doesn't really matter where you start to unravel, he explained.

The plays opened in the summer of 1973 at the Library Theatre in Scarborough and were an enormous success, selling out for every performance – with a wonderful story of one member of the audience laughing so hard she spat her false teeth out, which her husband came to recover the next day!

That was back in 1973 – and following its run in Scarborough, The Norman Conquests moved on to Greenwich Theatre, on the London fringe, where an exceptionally strong cast of then relative unknowns (including Michael Gambon, Felicity Kendal and Penelope Keith) working alongside the more established Tom Courtenay enabled the trilogy to make a huge impact.

In 2006, Kevin Spacey - Artistic Director of the Old Vic, London - announced the trilogy would be revived professionally in a major London theatre for the first time since 1974. This production opened last October to enormous critical acclaim and was widely hailed as one of the British theatre events of the year, transferring to Broadway, and winning a clutch of major awards including Alan Ayckbourn's first Tony which was awarded only last month. (Best Revivial Of A Play).

With each play a full length comedy in its own right it’s a perfect entertainment for a summer evening. If you want triple the fun though, then do see all three – there is even an opportunity to see them all on the same day if you’re brave enough! On Saturday 22 August you can catch both Table Manners and Round and Round the Garden – and on Saturday 29 August, it’s Trilogy Day and your opportunity to catch up on any of the plays you have missed, or to join the Company in an epic day of comic entertainment!

However many plays you choose to see, the Torch are keen to make this a real experience to remember – and they’re offering to feed and water you, as well as entertain you – something which they could not have done before their recent 5 million pound refurbishment!

The new Café Torch, which is open every performance day throughout the summer, will be serving very tasty Brunches and special High Teas. At only £4.50 a head, including a drink, it seems like an amazingly good deal. Two and three course Summer Suppers are also available before every evening performance… so on Double and Trilogy Days you don’t even have to leave the building – unless of course you decide to sit on their sunny terrace to enjoy your breaks!

Norman just wants to bring happiness to everyone, and that includes you! He’s a playful romantic who, after himself, loves no one so much as the woman he can't have. His ambitions of conquest being his wife's sister, his sister-in-law and let’s not forget his wife! But can YOU resist him?

Three plays and a cast of six (including the lovable and extremely funny actor, Edward Harrison, who many may remember seeing in Cinderella at the Torch, sporting a rather outrageous frock at Christmas). Infinite possibilities!

The Norman Conquests, written by Alan Ayckbourn and performed by the Torch Theatre Company, opens at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven on Wednesday 22 July with Table Manners. Contact the Torch Box Office on 01646 695267 for tickets, or visit their website at to make a reservation.
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Monday, July 13, 2009back



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