The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Jenna C. Carr, Kimberley Miller and Colin Malette in The Norman Conquests. Photo by Vick Bennison.

 The Norman Conquests 

Where: Amato Center for the Performing Arts, 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford 
When: July 13 through July 22, with showtimes on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Friday: Table Manners. Saturday: Living Together. Sunday: Round and Round the Garden. 
Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors age 60 and over. Available online, at the Toadstool Bookshop (614 Nashua St., Milford) or at the door. 

Three plays in three days
Milford Area Players take on The Norman Conquests trilogy


 By Angie Sykeny
As Kevin Linkroum looked for the next play he would direct for the Milford Area Players, he found himself uninspired by the “typical melodramatic dramas and slapstick comedies.” 
“As a director, I’ve been craving anything new and different,” he said. “I wanted something that would be a challenge, something that I could get excited about.” 
He found exactly that with The Norman Conquests, a comic trilogy of plays that follows a single family at their countryside home over the course of one weekend. It opens with the first of the three plays on Friday, July 13, at the Amato Center for the Performing Arts in Milford.
There are just six characters in the story: Norman and his wife Ruth, Ruth’s brother Reg and his wife Sarah, and Ruth’s sister Annie and her neighbor Tom. Annie, who lives at the house with her bedridden mother, asks Reg and Sarah if they will care for their mother while she goes on a short trip, which is actually secret rendezvous with Norman. Everything goes wrong when Norman comes to pick up Annie earlier than planned, resulting in the entire family being at the house for a comic weekend of confusion and chaos. 
“It’s a dysfunctional family tale, a familial mess,” Linkroum said. “A lot of it is relatable; the family dynamics and issues are ones that we all kind of know and have experienced, but [the playwright] accentuates the characters’ fundamental flaws. It’s like an argument you’ve have with a sibling or parent or spouse, but heightened and more animated.” 
Each play takes place in a different room of the house: Table Manners in the dining room, Living Together in the living room and Round and Round the Garden on the terrace. They are self-contained and can be seen alone or together in any order. At points, the plays intersect, and the characters’ entrance to or exit from the room corresponds with that of the other plays. 
“If you watch all three, you can think back to what was going on in that other room where character is coming from, and you get the full story of everything that happened over the course of that weekend,” Linkroum said. 
The Norman Conquests consists mainly of dialogue between the family members, delivered “flatly, but with emphasis,” Linkroum said, in a style of British comedy that he describes as “biting, sarcastic, dry and cutting.” 
Though the title names Norman, the trilogy does not focus on him or any other character as a main character, but rather, on all of the characters equally, and the relationship dynamics between them. 
“It’s very much an ensemble piece,” Linkroum said. “You could imagine any character as the lead because each character is fleshed out and has a complete story and arc, and they all build off one another.” 
Preparing for three separate, full-length plays to be performed in the same weekend has been a big commitment for Linkroum and the cast. They’ve been rehearsing for four months and had to structure the rehearsal schedule in a way that allowed them to learn one play at a time while still making time to review the plays they had already learned. Linkroum said some of the actors had misunderstood the concept of the trilogy production at audition time and only realized what they had gotten into after they got the part, but that didn’t stop them from taking on the unique challenge. 
“I have so much respect for them,” Linkroum said. “It’s a very demanding process. These actors have been put through the wringer, but they are troopers. No one complains, and everyone has been so generous with their time.” 
Linkroum recommends that people come to the opening show so that, if they like it, they will have the opportunity to attend the other two. 
“If you come to the first show, I think you’ll be hooked,” he said. “You’ll want to see whatever other hijinx the characters get into in the other shows.” 

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