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Round and Round the Garden

I’ve been working flat out on equipment trials for the past two weeks, and I’ve got another one starting next week, so I’m pretty much run off my feet at work at the moment. I decided that I could really do with a complete change of pace over the weekend, so yesterday I looked up what was on at the theatre, with a view to getting a standby ticket to the matinee. I was pleased to find that this week’s play was a classic Alan Ayckbourn comedy, Round and Round the Garden, and even more pleased than a standby ticket for a top-priced seat in the stalls was only a tenner.

I’ve seen the play several times before, and know that it’s a good one. It’s part of a trilogy of interlinked plays, collectively called The Norman Conquests. Each one is set in a different part of a country house (living room, dining room and garden) and follows the events of a disastrous weekend when the eponymous Norman, a would-be lothario, tries to seduce his two sisters-in-law under the nose of his long-suffering wife. That plot summary doesn’t sound particularly hilarious, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny in places – just what I needed after a busy and tiring week.

Each of the plays works well stand-alone, though if you watch all three of them you get a more rounded view of the events of the weekend, and of the interactions between the characters. When Christopher and I saw the plays years ago, (once in Worcester, and once at the Old Vic) all three were being shown, and it was a bit of a logistics challenge to get to them all. I remember that the London show involved staying two nights at my parents, and spending a whole Saturday at the theatre, with plays at 11:00, 15:00 and 19:30, with carefully scheduled slots for a quick meal (for both the audience, and presumably the cast) between performances. 

I haven’t got the time or energy at the moment to give up three evenings, or indeed an entire Saturday, to see all three plays, so perhaps it was just as well that the theatre was only staging one of them. As I expected, it was very funny – a bit more of a farce than I remembered, with some major “misunderstandings” leading to physical comedy, almost slapstick in places. Though fortunately no one lost their trousers, the sign of a really hackneyed old farce! It was very enjoyable, and really lightened my mood, which was just what I needed.