"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Monday, October 02, 2017
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS
Chichester Festival Theatre
rare chance to see the three parts of this classic trilogy in one day
– fortunately, in this Chichester production, the plays are
relatively brief, leaving plenty of time for refreshment and
plays, twelve scenes, one disastrous weekend. Simon Higlet’s design
captures the old Vicarage and its garden – the table, the rug, a
small water feature. A good sense of period, too – the play is set
in the early 70s, when it was written: Woman’s Weekly, Mario
Lanza on the HMV portable.
six characters thrown together for two eventful days, are very
recogniazable; they will recur in various permutations and
elaborations throughout the playwrights career. Jemima Rooper is
Annie, who spends her life tending to her valetudinarian mother –
whom we never see – and wondering if the nice but dim vet Tom [John
Hollingworth] will ever make
easy prey for her brother-in-law Norman, whose mission in life is to
make people happy. A virtuosic, charismatic performance by a bearded
Trystan Gravelle, though I struggled to see him as the weedy
long-suffering spouse, the short-sighted Ruth is given a nicely
rounded characterization by Hattie Ladbury. Brother
Reg [a brilliant Jonathan Broadbent], who invents complicated board
games that no-one plays, arrives with his wife Sarah to mother-sit
while Annie [and Norman] has a dirty weekend in East
Grinstead. Sarah is played to perfection by Sarah Hadland - fussing
over Annie, a fixed, brisk smile, obsessively polishing the table.
McIntyre’s production is excellent in the set-pieces – the
supper, the romps in the garden, but not at the expense of depth of
characterization and social interaction. All the more eloquent for
being given, in a first for Chichester, in the round, with extra
seats behind the circular stage.