Monday, November 16, 2009
Table Manners - by Alan Ayckbourn
The next three entries will be The Norman Conquests. This trilogy (recently on Broadway) of plays each take place over the same weekend, with the same characters, in different areas of the house.
This first one begins with Annie and her Sister-in-Law Sarah. Sarah's just arrived with her husband Reg, to take over Annie's duties as caretaker of her & Reg's mother for the weekend. Annie is going somewhere... over the course of the conversation it comes out that she's planned a dirty weekend in East Grinstead with Norman, the husband of her older sister Ruth. Sarah is shocked! Shocked! she'd assumed it would be a getaway with Tom, the local vet and eligible bachelor who haplessly comes round often, but really has no game at all. Norman shows up on the lawn waving around his pyjamas.
By scene two Ruth, Norman's wife, turns up at Sarah's request - she's short-sighted and doesn't like to have been pulled away from her work. ...
There are endless miles of terrain between these individuals, and Norman - a seemingly happy guy who happens to be married to a woman with her own mind, that doesn't really include him very much - does and says the wrong things throughout and is weirdly successful at it. The two other women end up in his arms at different points in the play.
And, as this one is set in the dining room, much of the comedic engine is the attempt to Just Sit Down and Have a Nice Meal Together.
moments where off-stage business is alluded to - and where characters come in laughing or disoriented from something that happened in another room with another character imply that the next two plays will add more dimensions to this one. Though, this one does stand quite nicely on it's own.