The Norman Conquests: West End Reviews

The Norman Conquests opened in the West End in 1974. This page presents extracts from some of the major reviews of the London production of the play. Please note these reviews refer to the transfer of the play to the Globe Theatre, rather than at the Greenwich Theatre where it was first performed in London.

Daily Mail (Jack Tinker)
"It takes an act of supreme courage and sublime confidence, for a writer to present three plays with the same plot, the same characters and the same tensions, in one season. But this writer is Alan Ayckbourn and… his new trilogy -
The Norman Conquests - vindicate him on both counts."

Daily Mail (Jack Tinker)
(From a separate review considering the trilogy): "The effect is stunning. There is an accumulative quality about the humour which makes the price of three tickets an investment rather than an indulgence."

Daily Telegraph (John Barber)
"This is comedy based on the sharpest apprehension of character and of the eternal warfare, and symbiosis between the clever and the stupid, the givers and the takers, the loveable and the deprived."

Daily Telegraph (John Barber)
(From a separate year-in-review editorial): I want to quickly mention that Alan Ayckbourn's
The Norman Conquests provided comedy as amusing, and profound, as any the year had to offer."

Evening News (Felix Barker)
"It is a feat of incredible ingenuity on the author's part to create so much humour and humanity out of the domestic and amorous behaviour of one dullish, middle-class family between Saturday evening and Monday morning."

Evening Standard (Milton Shulman)
"It is the meticulous observation of the ludicrous minutiae of suburban behaviour rather than the small plot of
The Norman Conquests that makes this one of the comic events of the year…. Such a three-dimensional experience in the theatre is unique not only because of the intricacy of the plotting, but because of the consistent quality of the laughs."

Financial Times (Michael Coveney)
"[They offer] in their overall impact, a beautifully observed and frequently riotous picture of a middle-class family set-up gingerly confronting its own shortcomings…. If you enjoy one play, you will enjoy them all."

The Guardian (Michael Billington)
"In the end it's Ayckbourn's sheer theatrical know-how and beady insight into meaningless family rituals that accounts for the gusts of laughter that sweep through the theatre."

New Yorker
"Mr Ayckbourn's neat craftsmanship and sharp eye for British tribal mores make these three farces deliver something serious about life, and Eric Thompson has directed them with such timing and polish that the result is exhilarating."

New York Times (Clive Barnes)
"Mr Ayckbourn has gotten himself one of the hottest tickets in town. Audiences come in giggling and leave in convulsions…. Mr Ayckbourn is a diabolically clever devil of a playwright. He plots his plays as if they were military operations, and he plays to win."

Punch (Barry Took)
"[They] are wildly funny, beautifully written, well acted and directed, and are worth not just a visit but a season ticket. To see one of them is good, to see two is better and to see all three, well - gosh, it's enough to make a chap gush."

The Stage
"In such an entertaining group of plays, so finely planned and written, perhaps the most remarkable thing is that there is so much laughter, so much of a light touch, when so much unhappiness is in the hearts of the people, whether or not they are aware of it."

Sunday Times (J.W. Lambert)
"Anyone even remotely interested in the theatre must by now know that these chronicles of a weekend in the life of a middle-class family are the event of the year."

The Times (Irving Wardle)
"Ayckbourn follows the rule of maximum craft and minimum pretension. In some hands this is a recipe for triviality, but not with this playwright who yet again has salvaged the name of entertainment theatre."

"[They] are a delightful addition to a rather tired London legit scene. They establish the author of
Relatively Speaking, How The Other Half Loves and Absurd Person Singular as one of the major comedy writers of the current English-speaking stage."

All reviews are copyright of the respective publication.