TABLE MANNERS is part of a trilogy under the general heading THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, the other two plays being ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN and LIVING TOGETHER. The plays are not consecutive, but all occur during a single week-end and each takes place in a different part of the same house. Thus we are watching events which are taking place simultaneously with those we have seen (or are to see) in another set. Each play is complete in itself and can be played as a separate entity, and they can be played in any order. TABLE MANNERS is generally regarded as the funniest of the three plays. It was first presented by the Library Theatre Co., Scarborough in June, 1973, and subsequently by the Greenwich Theatre Company in May, 1974, and in London at the Globe Theatre with Tom Courtenay, Penelope Keith and Felicity Kendal in August, 1974.
The Story: Annie’s brother-in-law, Norman, frustrated by a wife with “no love or feeling” for him, has persuaded Annie to go away with him secretly for a week-end. Their plans are ruined by the arrival of Annie’s brother, Reg, and his prudish wife, Sarah, who, when she finds out about the “dirty week-end,” calls Norman’s wife, Ruth, to come and put a stop to her husband’s philandering. The stuation is made even more complicated and hilarious by the presence of Annie’s slow-witted friend and suitor, Tom. The play not only demonstrates Mr Ayckbourn’s comic ability, but his clever observation of human folly as well.