The Norman Conquests: Table Manners

A trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn

Festival Theatre
In The Round
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Sheer comic dazzle

Mail On Sunday

High-flying comedy

Evening Standard



Expertly handled

Daily Telegraph
Daily Mail
The Stage
Libby Purves for TheatreCat

Part of The Norman Conquests A trilogy of plays by Alan Ayckbourn

Saturday. 6pm. The dining room. Where no-one is looking forward to Annie’s limp salad, or her mother’s lethal homemade dandelion, parsnip or carrot wine. 


Prologue Tickets on sale now


Is there anything funnier or more fiendishly clever than these three vintage plays, from 1973, about a family gathering in a Sussex vicarage? Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden (each a bit over two hours) depict the same weekend but from different vantage points – the dining room, the sitting room and the garden. Alan Ayckbourn constructs them like a jigsaw, so that an exit in one play becomes an entrance in another. Which is best? Impossible to say. They can be booked individually but the plays’ daring, depth and sheer comic dazzle are greatly enriched by seeing all three as a day-long ‘box set’

Mail On Sunday

A masterpiece. Sir Alan at his best. Blanche McIntyre has assembled a crack cast.

Daily Telegraph

The comic high points are expertly handled.


McIntyre’s cast swoops from sadness to silliness with aplomb. If you’ve got time to see all three, you get an amazing view of marital misadventures that’s not quite like anything else.


Norman is an extraordinary comic creation and, in the hands of rising star Trystan Gravelle, he has the look of a discombobulated badger hoping to escape a cull.

The cast has a hoot and ensures all three pieces run like clockwork as they unpick the madness of their marriages. Gravelle sets the pace, milking his seductive Welsh accent and puppy-dog eyes as shabby sexual trickster Norman. Jonathan Broadbent, a henpecked surveyor condemned to wear golf slacks, is pitched against Sarah Hadland as his marvellously shrill, tactless, manipulative wife. Hattie Ladbury adds style as Norman’s myopic missus. And John Hollingworth is a gormlessly amusing vet and suitor for Annie, the sister who stayed home to look after mother. In that role, Jemima Rooper is left to tear her hair in desperation — with only Norman offering any prospect of escape.

Blanche McIntyre’s production is enormously assured on Simon Higlett’s clever design, which seats the audience around a small island on which a country home is ringed with grass and brambles.

Daily Mail

An impressive revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s immaculately interwoven dramas. High-flying comedy and deep domestic melancholy, that unrivalled Ayckbourn cocktail, sit easily together in Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden (the viewing order is flexible, but be sure to see Garden last).

Evening Standard

Alan Ayckbourn's earliest theatrical trilogy remains a theatrically audacious wonder. It requires infinite precision in pacing and performance, with every time shift and plotting giving each character more depth and backstory. McIntyre's meticulously cast company lends it both serious weight and an effortless lightness of touch that captures and amplifies its competing tensions. Simon Higlett's ingenious sets provide an immersive environment for each play in Blanche McIntyre's artfully orchestrated new production.

The Stage

Ayckbourn executed with flair, it is a treat. The Festival Theatre has been set in the round as the playwright intended, as stage seats enable us – like the chaotic, overgrown garden – to circle Simon Higlett’s elegantly evocative sets. Blanche McIntyre directs with pace and wit: the cast are superb.

Libby Purves for TheatreCat

The three Ayckbourns which make up The Norman Conquests offer steadily-growing delight. Hilarious, beautifully cast, beautifully performed and beautifully directed by Blanche McIntyre.

Chichester Observer

That Ayckbourn could dovetail the chain of uproarious (though occasionally poignant) events so superbly is testament to his undoubted craft. But plaudits galore must be showered on the ensemble cast for their collective and individual ability to bring the high spirited nature of the human condition to life in such a mesmerising fashion.

Chichester News

It is a sheer delight watching all three parts of Alan Ayckbourn’s sparkling comedy, The Norman Conquests, during a trilogy day at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Stage Review

The pacing and comic timing is impeccable, with the cast playing skilfully and energetically off each other.

Sardines Magazine

Simon Higlett’s beautiful design is wonderfully evocative. Chichester has achieved a tremendous triple triumph.


Cast & Creatives


Cast List

Trystan Gravelle


Hattie Ladbury


Jemima Rooper


John Hollingworth


Sarah Hadland


Jonathan Broadbent


Creative team

Cast List

Blanche McIntyre


Simon Higlett


Johanna Town

Lighting Designer

Olly Fox


George Dennis

Sound Designer

Charlotte Sutton CDG

Casting Director



The Norman Conquests in-the-round

In-the-round Terrace Seating

Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests will be the Festival Theatre’s first ever “in-the-round” production. Seats will wrap around all sides of the stage creating a bank of Terrace Seating on what is normally the rear part of stage, so that the play’s action can be seen from all sides.

The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of interconnecting plays which look at the events of one family weekend from hilariously different viewpoints. Now you can match this experience by seeing the plays from a new perspective, and be even closer to all the action in our Terrace Seats.


Running Time
2 hours and 15 minutes including the interval