Composers and their stage works 

The Norman Conquests

Alan Ayckbourn

Three plays.

Table Manners Comedy 2 Acts - Scarborough 1973 : M3 F3. A dining-room. .
ISBN 0 573 01573 2
Living Together Comedy 2 Acts : Scarborough 1973 : M3 F3. A sitting-room.
ISBN 0 573 01574 0
Round and Round the Garden Comedy 2 Acts : Scarborough 1973 : M3 F3. A garden.
ISBN 0 573 01575 9

ISBN 0 573 01576 7 (complete volume)

These three plays form a trilogy. They are not consecutive, but all occur during a single weekend, and each takes place in the same house, with the same cast of characters, set individually in two of the rooms and the garden. Thus we are watching, at times, but not all the time, events which are taking place simultaneously with those we have seen (or about to see) in another set. Each play is complete in itself and can be played as a separate entity. However each benefits if all can be produced as one threefold whole.


Tom, Annie's boyfriend
Sarah, Reg's wife
Annie, Ruth and Reg's sister
Reg, Ruth and Annie's brother, Sarah's husband
Ruth, Reg and Annie's sister, Norman's wife


Table Manners



A married couple, Reg and Sarah, arrive at Reg's mother's house to care for Reg's invalid mother in order to leave Annie, Reg's sister, a weekend free from caring for the old woman.

Shortly after they arrive, they are joined by Norman, Reg and Annie's brother-in-law, and by Annie's ineffectual admirer, Tom. Reg and Sarah are surprised to see Norman, and even more surprised when they find out he has come to take Annie away for a dirty weekend, unknown to his wife, Reg and Annie's sister, Ruth. When Annie gets cold feet for the plan, Norman gets drunk and causes a scene, melodramatically proclaiming himself misunderstood.

Sarah, revolted by Annie and Norman's plan, rings Ruth, who arrives the next day quite unperturbed. The family decide, under Sarah's desperate prodding, to have a cosy Sunday lunch. They quickly break apart in acrimony and, when on Monday they are all about to part, Norman and Annie promise one another to pursue their original plan another time.

Living Together

Annie lives alone with her invalid mother, for whom she acts as a nurse, in a rambling Victorian house. Her brother Reg, sister-in-law Sarah, and brother-in-law Norman all descend on Annie for a weekend which is meant to give her a respite from the daily nursing grind. All the visitors antagonise one another, and Annie's local boyfriend Tom, so much that the weekend becomes a perpetual conflict.

Annie has asked her family to stay so that she and Norman, with whom she is having an affair, can escape to the seaside for a while, but she loses her courage and decides to stay at home instead. A disgruntled Norman gets drunk and reveals all about the affair which leads Sarah, a busybody, to inform Norman's wife Ruth of his conduct; she also attacks Annie for her morals, mostly because she fancies Norman herself.

Unfortunately for both of the ladies, Ruth is unruffled by Norman's ways and ends up bedded down with him when she arrives in response to Sarah's call. As the weekend draws to a close the couples prepare to leave, and Sarah hopes Norman will ask her away next time.

Round and Round the Garden

Norman arrives early for an assignation with his sister-in-law Annie, who is nurse to her invalid mother. The two have planned a dirty weekend, with Annie's mother left in the care of Reg and Sarah, Annie's brother and sister-in-law. But Norman's untimely arrival saps her courage and she cancels the trip.

As Norman alternately sulks and tries to seduce Annie, Reg and Sarah try to goad Tom, Annie's ineffectual boyfriend, into making a proposal of marriage. Sarah's true motive for doing so is her wish to supplant Annie as Norman's lover. However, her hope fades when Norman gets drunk and ignores her only to collapse weeping on Reg' s shoulder. In revenge, Sarah telephones her sister-in-law, Norman' s wife Ruth, and reveals his aborted plan with Annie. Ruth arrives and playfully declares a passion for Tom, which he takes seriously.

As the guests prepare to leave on Monday morning, Norman crashes the family cars in an attempt to delay everyone's departure so that he can continue his lechery. The women, tiring of him, turn their backs on him.