In 2010, we met the characters and learned of their weekend dinner and "Table Manners."
Last summer brought "Living Together," and took us into the parlor.
Now, Gloucester Stage's 2012 season kicks off a week from tonight with "Round and Round the Garden," the third and final installment of Alan Ayckbourn's "The Norman Conquests" trilogy — and an ensemble cast led by one-time Academy Award nominee Lindsay Crouse.
Each of these plays, written by the highly decorated playwright Alan Ayckbourn, is written to stand alone, so one needs not to have seen any of the others to enjoy the individual works.
"This one is going to be the best," said Gloucester Stage Artistic Director Eric Engel. "It's the funniest and the most poignant at once. It completes the puzzle."
Most of the The same cast members who performed in the first two shows to finish off the trilogy in this three-week run, which runs from June 14 through July 1.
They include Lindsay Crouse, who earned a best supporting actress nominee for her role alongside Sally Field in 1984"s "Places In The Heart," along with Steven Barkhimer, Richard Snee, Barlow Adamson and Sarah Newhouse. The only new cast member is Adrianne Krystanski.
Newhouse's credits include appearances on NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Barkhimer, who plays the quasi-title role of Norman, also played Gloucester Stage in the 2008 production of "The Woman in Black," a story that hit the big screen last year in a film starring Daniel Radcliffe. Barkhimer also played an HBO producer in the acclaimed 2011 film "The Fighter."
Playwright Ayckbourn, born in London, has written 74 full-length plays, and his work has been translated into more than 35 languages. His plays are regularly performed throughout the world. He has received more than 35 awards and honors including two Oliviers, two Molieres and Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Variety Club of Great Britain and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. In 2010, Ayckbourn received the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
In 1999, "The Norman Conquests" was named as one of the 100 Plays of the Century, representing the year 1973, as part of the National Theatre's 2000 celebration.
Like the other two, the third play in the trilogy contains both humor and heartache that comes during a reunion of siblings and their spouses, especially when one of those spouses — Barkhimer's Norman — begins to reap family havoc. A lovable librarian, Norman finds himself in an English country house for the weekend with his dysfunctional in-laws, including Sarah, the self-proclaimed matriarch played by Crouse, who is still trying to maintain order while learning that even she may be vulnerable to Norman's mischief.
The action in the first show took place in the dining room, and last year the action took place in the living room, and this show takes place in the garden, replete with a swing.
Engel, who directs the show, reunites with the colorful cast.
In 2010 and 2011 Gloucester Stage presented the first two plays, which enjoyed critical acclaim and sell-out audiences. In addition to the action in the dining room and the living room, "the loving, laughing and lurking" will spill over into the garden in this final segment of the trilogy.
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Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.
'Round the Garden'
What: Gloucester Stage kicks off 2012 season with "Round and Round the Garden."
When: June 14 through July 1.
Where: Gloucester Stage at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester.
Tickets: Priced at $40 for all performances. Senior citizen student tickets are $35. A limited amount of tickets are dedicated to Cape Ann Nights on the Wednesday and Thursday 8 p.m. performances, with those tickets $20 for Cape Ann residents. The 3 p.m. Saturday matinee on June 16 is "pay what you can."
The June 17 show at 4 p.m. includes a free post-show discussion with the artists. For reservations or information, call the box office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.org.