And Round The Garden
(Part of the trilogy of plays The Norman Conquest)
Written by Alan Ayckbourn, Directed by Philip Wilson
25th May - 23rd June 2012
Photograph by Jonathan Keenan
Round And Round The Garden was the third of the trilogy of The Norman
Conquest to be shown on the same day at the Playhouse but it did not matter
that I was not in attendance at the first two. Each can be viewed as an
independent play in themselves and seen in any sequence.
All the plays take place in a different location within a single house
based in the English countryside set over an eventful single weekend -
Table Manners in the dining room, Living Together in the sitting room
and Round And Round The Garden, not surprisingly, outside. They are three
individual jigsaws set within a larger jigsaw.
Written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1973 - at times the production does have
a dated feel to it, notably the similiarity at times to Brian Rix's Whitehall
Theatre farces, so popular in the 1960's - the play unfolds when randy
Norman (Philip Cumbus) - a David Bellamy look-alike, with his overgrown
whiskers - he describes himself as a 'gigolo trapped inside a haystack'
- has a planned nudge, nudge weekend away with Annie (Laura Howard) called
off, leaving him staying at her house, along with his long-suffering wfe
Ruth ( Emily Pithon), Annie's tedious brother Reg (Oliver Birch) and his
snooty wife Sarah (Sarah Tansey) and half-witted Tom (Tom Davey), who
fancies Annie but does not have a clue how to seduce her.
On the other hand Norman is a dab hand at seduction but there is little
about him to get the pulse racing. But maybe that's the point Ayckborn
is trying to make - how women's choice of a male partner is so often misjudged
and ends in tears.
One of the funniest scenes in an amiable enough critique of middle-class
angst is when Norman and Annie are in love making mode on the garden grass,
while Tom and Reg, standing a couple of yards away, are waffling on about
cars, blissfully unaware of the steamy passion going on behind them.
The revolving set design, devised by Matthew Wright, is impressive, showing
the interior of the house, used in the other two plays. Also you can almost
feel the warm rays of the sun as portrayed in the garden setting.