SPENDING the day in the company of six members of an endlessly bickering family seems a daunting prospect, but the plays that make up the Norman Conquests trilogy (Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden) are an unmitigated delight.

Each play runs along roughly the same timeline, over the course of a weekend. Norman just wants to make women happy, and his tireless attempts to woo the ladies in this play are endlessly amusing, with certain key scenes rendering the audience helpless with laughter.

This is the first time Chichester’s main theatre has been set up in the round, and it works brilliantly – watching the reactions of the audience opposite is almost as amusing as the play itself. The set, sparse given that there is no back wall, is effective and particularly comes into its own in Round and Round the Garden (although I can’t help but wish that they had put a fake cat up in the tree).

While each play can be enjoyed fully on its own, there is great satisfaction to be had in filling in the blanks by seeing all three. Why, for example, does Annie start wearing high heels and a dress on Sunday?

On it’s own, its an amusing costume change. But once you watch Round and Round the Garden all becomes clear. However, if I had to choose just one play to see on its own, I would pick Table Manners, a play based around the most fraught of family situations; the dinner table.

These dining scenes are masterpieces of restrained physical comedy, and pin-sharp comic lines by Alan Ayckbourn. The cast is universally brilliant – each character is both appealing and appalling in turn.

But the standout performance for me was Jonathan Broadbent as beleaguered and pedantic Reg. Not to give anything away, but his scene with the board game is a sight to behold.

Emily Angus