Is That Clear?

This week marks the 49th anniversary of Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy The Norman Conquests opening in London.

On 9 May, Table Manners opened at the Greenwich Theatre to be followed by Living Together and Round and Round the Garden. The trilogy would later transfer to The Globe Theatre, London, where it found considerable success.

For its opening at Greenwich, Alan wrote the following programme note to explain a little bit about the trilogy and to also emphasise – something which still needs doing today – that there is no correct order in which to see or produce the trilogy.

To mark its London opening almost five decades ago, the article is reproduced here.

The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn

If you are in the process of reading this Programme, the chances are that you are already about to see, are in the midst of seeing, or have already seen, at least one of the plays that form The Norman Conquests.

In which case, this advice is not for you. Do not read on.

For those who have seen none of the plays but may be wishing to do-so, it is hoped that the following notes may prove useful.

The first thing to remember is, understandably, don’t see Table Manners first. This will give you a wrong time sequence and will only confuse you when you come to see, say, Living Together which, incidentally, you are strongly advised not to see second.

Ideally, Round and Round the Garden should not be seen before you have seen Table Manners – but do not, on the other hand, fall into that old trap of seeing Round and Round the Garden after Living Together as this again will confuse the sequences of dramatic events.

Do not see Living Together first as this will severely curtail a lot of the pleasure you gain from seeing Table Manners for the first time which latter play, for maximum enjoyment you should try and save till the end.

In short, do try and see all three plays first, or, if you really can’t manage this, last. This way you will avoid any disappointment.

Like most things in this world, there is a logical progression i.e. Parts 1, 3 and finally of course, 2.

by Alan Ayckbourn (1974)

You can find out more about The Norman Conquests at Alan Ayckbourn’s Official Website by clicking here.

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