Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Norman Conquests

Shotgun Players

The Norman Conquests
By Alan Ayckbourn

Table Manners
Directed By Joy Carlin

Living Together
Directed By Molly Aaronson-Gelb

Round & Round The Garden
Directed By Mina Morita

Zehra Berkman / Annie
Sarah Mitchell / Ruth
Mick Mize / Reg
Kendra Lee Oberhauser / Sarah
Josiah Polhemus / Tom
Richard Reinholdt / Norman

The Ashby Stage
August 29, 2010

On Sunday I attended Shotgun Players' first marathon performance of all 3 parts of The Norman Conquests. This started out as a one-time staged reading early in the year, & it was so successful that they decided to mount a full production. Going in, I was worried about getting tired of the characters, who all behave pretty badly over the weekend depicted in the plays, but fortunately all 3 performances skated along with great comic momentum, & I never lost interest. Even a stage hand gets some laughs while clearing the set between scenes.

The cast is uniformly fine, & certainly no one ever tired. I liked Mick Mize as a goofy, wide-eyed Reg. He looks funny even when he's not doing anything. Sarah Mitchell is brilliant with her strong characterization of the over-confident Ruth. She is hilarious from her 1st appearance, making her way near-sightedly through breakfast, looking like a mole. She nails the comic climax in Act II of Round & Round the Garden just by the way she enters & spots Annie & Norman rolling on the ground.

After the 1st play, my theater companion & I sat on some steps at the side of the building to eat our sandwiches, but this turned out to be the stage door, & I found myself getting up several times to make way for cast members going out for a walk. The sold-out house on Sunday was enthusiastic & laughed loudly & evidently held a lot of Ayckbourn fans. A man next to us had seen the New York production last year. After each intermission there was a raffle, though the prizes were mockingly meager, being things like a single-serving box of Cheerios, a piece of a rug, & a small toy cat. During one of the breaks, my theater companion had his fortune told by a man in a fez sitting in a booth outside the theater. The trilogy has been extended through September 12th, though the only other marathon peformance next weekend is already sold out.

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