The Norman Conquests

This article is about the plays written by Alan Ayckbourn. For the Norman conquest of England, see Norman conquest of England. For other Norman conquests and other uses, see Norman conquest (disambiguation).

The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of plays written in 1973 by Alan Ayckbourn. The plays were first performed in Scarborough, before runs in London and on Broadway. A television version was first broadcast in the UK during October 1977.


The small scale of the drama is typical of Ayckbourn. There are only six characters, namely Norman, his wife Ruth, her brother Reg and his wife Sarah, Ruth's sister Annie, and Tom, Annie's next-door-neighbour. The plays are at times wildly comic, and at times poignant, in their portrayals of the relationships among the six characters.

Each of the plays depicts the same six characters over the same weekend in a different part of a house. Table Manners is set in the dining room, Living Together in the living room, and Round and Round the Garden in the garden. Each play is self-contained, and they may be watched in any order, some of the scenes overlap, and on several occasions a character's exit from one play corresponds with an entrance in another. The plays were not written to be performed simultaneously, although Ayckbourn did achieve that some twenty-five years later in House & Garden.

Production history

The plays were first performed in Scarborough, before a season in London, with a cast that included Tom Courtenay as Norman, Penelope Keith as Sarah, Felicity Kendal as Annie, Michael Gambon as Tom, Bridget Turner as Ruth, and Mark Kingston as Reg.

The plays originally premiered on Broadway in 1975 for 69 performances at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Eric Thompson and featuring Richard Benjamin, Ken Howard, Barry Nelson, Estelle Parsons, Paula Prentiss, and Carole Shelley.

The first major London revival of The Norman Conquests was presented at The Old Vic Theatre in 2008 with Matthew Warchus directing a cast including Stephen Mangan as Norman, Jessica Hynes as Annie, Ben Miles as Tom, Amanda Root as Sarah, Paul Ritter as Reg and Amelia Bullmore as Ruth. The Old Vic auditorium was transformed to a theatre in the round, known as the CQS Space, especially for this production.

The 2008 Old Vic production opened on Broadway with the London cast at the Circle in the Square Theatre on 7 April 2009, official opening 23 April, and scheduled closing on 25 July 2009.[1][2]

Television adaptation

In 1977 the plays were adapted for television by Thames Television. Penelope Keith reprised her role as Sarah. The rest of the cast featured Tom Conti as Norman, Penelope Wilton (who had played Ruth in the original 1974 London stage production)[3] as Annie, Richard Briers as Reg, David Troughton as Tom and Fiona Walker as Ruth. The three plays were directed by Herbert Wise and produced by Verity Lambert and David Susskind. Keith won the BAFTA Television Award for Best Actress for her performance.

Awards and nominations

2009 Tony Awards[4]
2009 Drama Desk Awards[5]
New York Drama Critics' Circle
Outer Critics Circle Awards[7]


External links

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