Table Manners, by Alan Ayckbourn, is the first in a trilogy of plays entitled The Norman Conquests. The play takes place in a country house in West Sussex, England where three grown-up siblings and their significant others all end up under the same roof. This is no ordinary weekend holiday as strong personalities, long-time rivalries and romantic entanglements converge and quickly boil over.
Directed by Neil Pankhurst, this fantastic six actor cast brings to life this witty and highly entertaining British comedy. The full play takes place in a comfortable dining room, designed by Meredith Brown. Once it began it didn’t take long before the audience was fully engrossed and laughing; which they continued to do for the next two hours.
Rebecca Tucker (Annie) and Molly Parker Myers (Sarah) wonderfully portrayed their sister-in-law characters. Their opposing views, mannerisms, and the ways that they believe flowers and place settings should be arranged make for great first scene. It is clear within the first few minutes who prefers to always be in control and have things done her way regardless of whose house she is in. When the other characters arrive into the scene tensions escalate to the point where by intermission, more than one character has become unhinged. Tom (Jason Plourde) is the rather in-different friend of Annie, who is constantly trying to figure out if he has interest in her and if so why won’t he make a move. Jason Plourde is pleasantly charming as the only character who seems to stay relaxed during the play; with the exception of one momentary misunderstanding. Richard Brundage superbly portrays Annie’s brother & Sarah’s husband Reg. Reg is a very relatable character in that he is just trying to make it through the weekend without too much family drama. Norman, incredibly played by Nicholas Wilder, often finds himself in the middle of the dysfunctional drama and rightly so; though he does feign his innocence in the thick of it. Suzanne Kimball who splendidly plays his wife Ruth, sister to Annie and Reg, joins in the weekend of family disorder and like Annie, knocks heads with Sarah most of the time.
As the chaos continues throughout the play the audience gets a clear understanding of why the trilogy is called The Norman Conquests. And if you want to know why you’ll just have to head over to the Winnipesaukee Playhouse sometime before July 25th to find out. It would be great to see this trilogy of amusing plays about family pandemonium produced at the Winnipesaukee playhouse in the coming years especially if this same group of talented actors reprised their roles.
For additional information and tickets to Table Manners visit winnipesaukeeplayhouse.org
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