Starring Derek Boyes, Laura Condlln, Oliver Dennis, Sarah Mennell, Fiona Reid, Albert Schultz. Written by Alan Ayckbourn. Directed by Ted Dykstra. Young Centre (Distillery District), to Nov. 16.
If you want to stage a comedy marathon, you need a team of expert comedians who can go the distance. Happily, director Ted Dykstra has assembled just that for his scintillating Soulpepper revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s three-play cycle, The Norman Conquests. A devastating critique of marriage disguised as a farce, Ayckbourn’s 1970s trilogy follows three siblings, their spouses, and lovers during a fraught weekend at an English country house. Each play is set in a different part of the house and can be enjoyed independent of the others—although the acting here is so delectable, you’ll want to indulge in all three. A bearish Albert Schultz is charmingly ridiculous as Norman, the unlikely Lothario whose amorous intentions drive the plot. Fiona Reid, so brittle she seems to be on the verge of shattering, is hilarious as his OCD sister-in-law, struggling mightily to keep the gathering “civilized.” The other cast members also give highly enjoyable performances, even if this production doesn’t fully capture the melancholy lurking behind the laughs.