Round And Round The Garden At The Old Vic

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Last week on Friday night, I went to meet my friend Jeannie near Waterloo train station in London.

Jeannie had received two free complimentary theatre tickets to see a preview of The Norman Conquests at the Old Vic Theatre, and she asked me if I wanted to watch the play with her. I jumped at the chance, as I love going to the theatre!

It was my first time to see a performance at The Old Vic theatre, so I was really looking forward to going there.

The Normal Conquests is a set of three plays written by Alan Ayckbourn.

Each play can be watched independently, or as a trilogy, in any combination. They are Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden. The play I saw was Round and Round the Garden.

Alan Ayckbourn has written lots of plays and is a well-known playwright. You can visit his official website by clicking here.

We were both a little late to the theatre. As we arrived, they were ringing the bell for everyone to be seated. So, we unfortunately didn't get chance to grab the best seats. We waited for the majority of the audience to sit down, and then we both looked out for two better empty seats to move to. I spotted some, so we sat in them, and we then both had a better view of the stage below. However, during the second act, the two people who had booked our two new seats, unexpectedly arrived in the theatre. This meant that we were asked to move to different seats by one of the theatre staff.

Whilst we sat together, Jeannie told me that they had recently rebuilt the inside of the theatre, and she pointed out different things to me. Where once the original stage was located, there were now new seats. The stage was now in the centre of the theatre and was circular shaped, so the audience sat around it. This sort of stage set up is called ‘theatre in the round’, which you can read a definition of by clicking here.

Jeannie also told me that she recently saw one of the other plays from The Normal Conquest trilogy. During the performance, she saw the famous American film star Kevin Spacey sitting in the audience. Kevin Spacey is Artistic Director of the Old Vic.

The set for the play Round and Round the Garden was very interesting . We were looking down on top of a circle, which had a mini model village built upon it, complete with fields, trees, roads, buildings, cars, people, and even little cricket players playing a cricket match! The model village was built in scale to that of a model railway. The circular stage was quite big.

When the play began the top of the circle lifted up into the air, to reveal the set beneath.

The set was a full-scale garden, which had a real grass lawn, patio, path, plants, and various other garden related props.

The lighting was done very well, as it looked like a bright warm summers day (which we have not seen much of this year). I liked the lighting of the night scenes too, as it really looked like nighttime.

Sounds playing in the background during the performance were very good too, such as;- birds in trees, and crows crowing, cars in the distance. Little touches like that drew me into the story.

The play itself was a comedy story about desire, sex, marriage, love, and loneliness.

Each of the three plays follow the same six characters, Norman, his in-laws and the local vet over a summer weekend, in an English Country house.

The six characters were, Ruth, Annie, Norman, Tom, Reg and Sarah.

Norman (as played by the actor Stephen Magan) was a scruffy character, with a bushy beard, woolly hat, and long overcoat. He was a bit of a ladies man, trying to seduce his sister-in-law Annie, charming his brother-in-law Reg’s wife Sarah, and woo his own wife during the whole length of the play. I enjoyed watching the character of Norman; as he was very funny when drunk, and whilst he was trying to impress the women.

Tom (as played by the actor Ben Miles) was the local vet. He was more of a sensible man, but nervous of women. I enjoyed seeing him keep commenting about a cat stuck up in a tree, and when he was getting nervous about a woman flirting with him.

Reg (as played by the actor Paul Ritter) was my most favourite character of the play. He was a salesperson, a bit of nerd and a weak man, but he was the most amusing to watch.

The three women Ruth (Amelia Bullmore) Annie (Jessica Hynes), and Sarah (Amanda Root), were also good characters, as well as being very funny.

I won’t spoil the play by writing anymore about it, just in case anyone reading this wants to watch it, or any of the other plays. But, if you want to see any of them, then the plays are on at the Old Vic until the 20th December.

I enjoyed watching all of the play, as all those involved in the production made it very worthwhile seeing it.

Round and Round the Garden lasted around two hours.

After it finished, Jeannie walked back to the Waterloo train station with me, and I caught a train back home.

Jeannie is a great friend, I look forward to going out with her again soon.

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