The Norman Conquests is a set of three plays. Each stands on its own, but all three are set on the same weekend with the same characters, allowing them to become a greater whole. See one, see two, see three. See them in any order.
Round and Round the Garden (as yet the only one I’ve gotten to see) is the third play in the set, also the one of the three that comes first and last chronologically to the weekend. Here’s the set-up:
Annie is a home caregiver to her never seen mother. This weekend sees her planning a weekend get away – a rare thing for her – and her brother Reg set to take over caregiver responsibilities with his wife Sarah. Unbeknownst to Reg and Sarah, Annie’s weekend getaway is a secret rendezvous with the perpetually carefree Norman – who is married to Annie and Reg’s other sister, Ruth.
Norman shows up at the house, Annie is convinced by Sarah with little effort to stay home instead of going away, Norman decides to stick around and try to salvage his plans with Annie. Ruth shows up. Then there’s Tom who’s held a torch for Annie forever (and she him) though has done nothing about it.
No, really. This show is really damned funny.
It helps to have assembled a cast of some of Ottawa’s greatest comedic actors, all six of whom are at the top of their game under John P Kelly’s direction. A cast including:
- the two funniest men I’ve seen on stage anywhere, Steve Martin and AL Connors (as the Norman for whom the trilogy is titled).
- the always brilliant Michelle LeBlanc and Margo MacDonald (who just won a pair of Rideau Awards for her one-woman show The Elephant Girls).
- David Whiteley as Tom, the local vet in love with Annie who completely redefines both hapless and clueless in one particularly wonderful set piece in Round and Round the Garden that leads him to believe Ruth is in love with him. (Something that couldn’t be further from the truth.)
- Julia Le Gal as practical-minded Ruth who deserves special mention for bringing a much needed grounding to The Norman Conquests. While the other five characters are each varying shades of the comic goofballs you’d expect to appear in British comedies, Ruth captures the perfect essence to anchor them in reality and keeps Conquests from being absurdly over the top.
I’ve regrettably only gotten to see one of the three so far — Round and Round the Garden — but whether you’re able to see one, two, or all three, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a great time.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. How many parts of The Norman Conquests have you seen? What moment had you laughing the hardest.
The Norman Conquests is co-produced by Plosive Productions and SevenThirty Productions. The three plays run in repetition now until Saturday October 10th – when all three shows will be presented in one day! Visit thegladstone.ca for details.