The Norman Conquests

If you haven't heard of the Norman Conquests, then apparently you must see them! They are three Alan Ayckbourn plays which, in the words of Wikipedia:
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.
Marketing (and some people) have been harping on this last line--watch them in any order! And in theory this makes sense... after all, not only do all three take place on the same weekend, but Round and Round the Garden actually starts and ends the series. In other words, the first scene of Garden takes place before the first scenes of Table Manners or Living Together, while the last scene of Garden also takes place after the final scenes of the other two plays.

But occasionally I'll hear someone say that you should see them in the order it appears in when published--Table, Living, and Garden in that order.

Well, being that I had some comps in the exact opposite order for this past Monday, today, and this Friday, I decided to not be so picky and take advantage of the fact that they may be watched in any order!

What I and a friend were treated to at Garden on Monday was a very confusing piece of comedy. It's like seeing a taping of Seinfeld where you're the only person who hasn't ever seen the show, so you can't understand why everybody is laughing at Kramer so much when he hasn't even done anything yet.

In other words: here I am expecting this "self-contained" play, and from the moment characters are stepping onstage, the rest of the audience seems to understand everything well more than I do. It's like watching an entire play where you're only getting punchlines, and people are talking about "Oh, Norman is always like this and like that" while the people next to you seem to already be laughing, "Yes, he sure is!"

Parts were funny, but overall the feeling of confusion sort of overtook it all. I'm not going to quite give up. Let's see if I'm in on the joke this time around for Living Together.

My recommendation: If you're considering seeing this play, definitely go for the marathon days because then you and others in the audience won't be on such different pages. You don't have to lock-in to all three, mind you, or even go the same day. Buy tickets to a Saturday 11AM Table Manners. Then, if you like it, go back another Saturday or two for the rest.

Also, from what I understand, each play centers around Norman trying to woo a different one of the three women in the plays. Go into it understanding that.

Hopefully I'll have a clearer opinion of the whole thing after tonight, and certainly after Friday.


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