The Norman Conquests is a trilogy of full-length plays, Table Manners, Living Together, and Round and Round the Garden, each taking place during the same July weekend in different parts of a house and garden in suburban England. Table Manners, set in the dining room, opens on a Saturday evening as Reg and Sarah arrive to look after Reg’s invalid mother while Annie, his youngest sister, goes away for the weekend. Annie is going alone, leaving behind her friend Tom, a veterinarian who prefers animals to people and is, according to Sarah, “a trifle ponderous.” Tom has never touched Annie, who believes that he visits only when he has nothing to do.
Annie reveals that she is leaving with her sister Ruth’s husband, Norman, with whom she had sexual relations the previous Christmas, but prudish Sarah vows to stop them. Reg, on the other hand, is happy that his sister is finally going to have some romance in her life. The naïve Tom appears and says that he would have gone with Annie if she had asked. Even though Norman is in the garden waiting for her, Annie decides not to go.
Scene 2 of act 1 occurs the following morning, as Norman tries to convince Annie that he only wants to make her happy. Then Ruth appears, having been summoned by Sarah. Ruth and Norman argue about their marriage, with Ruth claiming that he has held her career back ten years. Norman discloses his adulterous plans with Annie, and Ruth laughs when he claims that they are in love.
Act 2, scene 1, takes place that evening, with Tom threatening to punch Norman for upsetting Annie. Norman attempts to enlist Sarah’s support by explaining how they are both sensitive. Ruth tells Annie that Tom loves her but needs to be coerced into action. Annie apologizes to her sister for her would-be romance with Norman. Over dinner, Norman and Ruth squabble, and dim Tom, thinking that Norman is insulting Annie, strikes him. Norman and Sarah unite in feeling misunderstood. In act 2, scene 2, the following morning, Norman suggests that Sarah needs a holiday and volunteers to go with her, promising to make her happy. She invites him to call her later. Annie tells Tom that she agreed to leave with Norman only because she was lonely, but he, as usual, fails to get the point. The play ends with Annie asking Norman to take her away.
Living Together is set in the sitting room and opens on the same Saturday evening as the previous play. Norman tries to explain to Sarah how innocent his weekend with Annie would have been, how no one would have been hurt if Annie had not told her about it. Annie tells Norman that she is fond of Tom but that communicating with the veterinarian “is terribly heavy going. Like running up hill in roller skates.” Norman continues attempting to seduce Annie, and Reg catches them kissing. Tom realizes...
(The entire section is 1173 words.)