Warchus to Direct Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests at the Old Vic; Cast Announced

News   Warchus to Direct Ayckbourn's Norman Conquests at the Old Vic; Cast Announced Alan Ayckbourn's comic trilogy, The Norman Conquests, will be produced in London for the first time since the original West End production in 1974, with the Old Vic specially reconfigured into an intimate "theatre-in-the-round" space that replicates the theatre they were originally written for in Scarborough, Ayckbourn's northern seaside base.

Matthew Warchus will direct a cast that includes Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan and Paul Ritter in the three plays — Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden — that will begin performances Sept. 11 prior to an official "press day" on Oct. 6 (when all three plays will be presented) for a limited run to Dec. 20.

There will be five Saturdays during the run when all three plays will be performed in one day: Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 22, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. On other occasions it will be possible to see the three plays over a Friday evening, then the next day's matinee and evening performances. It should be noted that it is not necessary to see the plays in any particular order or all three at all: They each stand alone from each other, though following the same six characters in the same English country house.

The action of each play takes place simultaneously, over the same time frame: Saturday evening to Monday morning. The plot(s) revolve around the title character who, believing it his mission in life is to make women happy by showering them with love, makes the most of every opportunity to do so, trying to seduce his sister-in-law Annie, charming his brother-in-law's wife Sarah and wooing his own wife Ruth.

Norman is played by Stephen Mangan. Best known for his TV role in "Green Wing" and as Adrian Mole in "The Cappuccino Years," he has also appeared in the films "Festival," "Confetti" and "Billy Elliot." Onstage, he has appeared in Michael Frayn's Noises Off (Piccadilly Theatre), Hay Fever (Savoy Theatre), The People are Friendly (Royal Court) and A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing and School for Scandal for the RSC.

Norman's wife Ruth is played by Amelia Bullmore. Her stage credits include The Thickness of Skin, Road and The Queen and I (all Royal Court), Inadmissable Evidence (National) and A View from the Bridge (Manchester's Royal Exchange). On TV she appeared as a regular on "Coronation Street" as Stephanie Barnes. Norman's sister-in-law Annie is played by Jessica Hynes (formerly Stevenson, but now known by her married name). She can be seen in the current film release "Son of Rambo," and she also co-wrote and co-starred in two series of the Channel 4 series "Spaced." Onstage she has appeared in The Night Heron (Royal Court, for which she was nominated for the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role). Other theatre credits include The Plough and the Stars and Fiddler on the Roof, both directed by Matthew Warchus, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Norman's brother-in-law Reg, married to Sarah, is played by Paul Ritter, who was seen at the National Theatre in The Hothouse, Royal Hunt of the Sun, Coram Boy and The Coast of Utopia. Other theatre credits include The Night Heron (Royal Court) and Snake in the Grass (Old Vic).

Director Matthew Warchus last directed Speed-the-Plow at the Old Vic, and is currently represented in the West End by The Lord of the Rings (at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) and God of Carnage (Gielgud), and on Broadway by Boeing-Boeing. In a statement he said, "I have always been excited by the magical effect that 'in-the-round' has on audiences, performances and design. Seeing Ayckbourn performed in this setting, compared to a conventional proscenium arch, can I think be revelatory."

Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey added, "Creating theatre 'in-the-round' for The Norman Conquests will be an exciting new chapter in the Old Vic's history. These plays are beautifully constructed and retain real contemporary relevance, and I can't wait to see this cast bring the characters to life."

For tickets contact the box office at 0870 060 6628 or visit www.oldvictheatre.com.

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