Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 16:47 UK

Old Vic goes round for trilogy

The Old Vic
The Old Vic's interior has been adapted for Ayckbourn's trilogy

The Old Vic - London's oldest theatre - has been transformed to create an intimate "in-the-round" stage for a new production at the venue.

Alan Ayckbournís comic classic, The Norman Conquests, is being staged in London for the first time since 1974.

Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey said it was an "exciting new chapter" in the theatre's history.

He said: "The space opens up numerous possibilities for future productions and we've found it really inspiring."

Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests are in London for the first time since their 1974 premiere. It opens at the theatre on 6 October.

'Magical effect'

The trilogy - Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round the Garden - were originally conceived to be performed in the round.

Jessica Hynes, of TV comedy show Spaced, Ben Miles, of Coupling, and Stephen Mangan, of Green Wing, star in the production.

The action of each play takes place simultaneously and follows the same six characters, revealing the frustrations that bubble beneath the surface of a family's relationship.

Director Matthew Warchus said: "I have always been excited by the magical effect that 'in-the-round' has on audiences, performers and design.

"Seeing Ayckbourn performed in this setting, compared to a conventional proscenium arch, can, I think, be revelatory."

The Grade II-listed theatre was originally built in 1818 as the Royal Coburg.

Andrew Todd, the architect who advised on the refurbishment, said: "The Old Vic was a corseted Victorian lady who, whilst perfectly pretty and serviceable, perhaps wasnít living life to the full.

"With this modification, we've found a dynamic new central stage which promises to release new levels of excitement and intimacy."

Spacey defends Old Vic management
13 Apr 06 |  Entertainment

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