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Photo: Standing L-R: Eric Henderson (Plymouth), Mike McGill (Fall River), Sitting: Victoria Kirichok (Brockton), Krista Watson (Easton), Karin Henderson (Plymouth), Lying down: Dan Kirichok (Brockton).

Opening weekend for NRP’s final show of the season “Living Together” begins on Friday, October 20th at 8pm at The Alley Theatre, 133 Centre Street, Middleboro.  The final installment of “The Norman Conquests” begs the question “ if I missed the first two installments, does it matter?”  NO! What happens to this endearingly dysfunctional family is what happens to most families …. we just keep doing what we do just in a different room!

When the characters in this play are asked if they’re happy, a typical response goes like this: “Yes. Mostly. Occasionally. Now and then. I don’t know.”  That’s how Sarah (Krista Watson) answers the question, but it could be any of the others. Except that it couldn’t, because everyone here, while cut from the same cloth of loneliness and selfishness, is so achingly individual, from the way they wear their hair to how they kiss.

In its natural portrayal of ordinary misery, “Living Together” suggests nothing so much as a Chekhov play pumped full of nitrous oxide.  Like “The Seagull” it is built on one of the wonderful paradoxes of theater: deeply unhappy people can generate profound happiness in audiences allowed to eavesdrop on their lives.

The story of a philandering loser and the lives he brightens and smudges; “Living Together” finds Ayckbourn manipulating the conventions of theater. The setup is established anew in all three plays, which cover the same time period in different settings: “Table Manners” (set in a dining room), “Living Together” (a living room) and “Round and Round the Garden” (guess).

Norman (Dan Kirichok), an assistant librarian with unruly hair and manners to match, arrives to run away for a “dirty weekend” with the downtrodden Annie (Karin Henderson), who for years has been trapped taking care of her invalid mother in a big drab house in the country. Without revealing her real plans, Annie has enlisted her brother, Reg (Michael McGill ), and his wife, Sarah (Krista Watson), to look after the tyrannical (and never seen) Mum.

Annie and Norman would have both left someone behind: Tom (Eric Henderson), the veterinarian who is Annie’s kind-of boyfriend, and Ruth (Victoria Kirichok), Annie’s sister and Norman’s acerbic wife. It isn’t giving away too much to reveal that Annie and Norman’s weekend never happens. Well it does, but it happens at Annie’s house and involves every one of the people just mentioned.

It’s the sense of fraught emotions percolating beneath the surface that makes this production feel so eye-openingly ordinary. You know what it’s like when grown-up family members reunite, when simple domestic tasks like setting the table, seating a dinner party, washing the dishes or playing a board game become occasions for quick (and instantly repressed) flare-ups. The hostility behind such outbursts would be scary if it weren’t so damn funny.

Ms. Henderson’s frowsy, brusque Annie; Ms Watson’s thin-lipped controlling Sarah; Mr. McGill’s passive, clownish Reg; Mr. Henderson’s slow-thinking, stoical Tom; and Ms. Kirichok’s brittle, disaffected Ruth: all are as vivid as your own family at breakfast on the vacation from hell. Mr. Kirichok’s oversexed-sheep-dog-like Norman is magnetic to them all because he is their unedited ids incarnate: narcissistic, longing to dominate and oh so hungry for attention and affection.

Ruth, who is seriously nearsighted but refuses to wear her glasses, says testily to her husband: “I can see as well as you. It’s only people I sometimes can’t see very clearly.” This is a condition shared by all the characters in “The Norman Conquests.” But you, lucky theatergoer, will see them with clear vision.

“Living Together” opening on Friday, October 20th at the Alley Theatre, 133 Centre Street, Middleboro and continuing October 21, 27,28, Nov 2, 3 at 8pm with 2pm matinees on October 22 & 29. Tickets are $20 General Admission and $18 Seniors & Students, Matinee $15.  SPECIAL THURSDAY NIGHT PERFORMANCE: November 2nd all tickets $15.00

All performances can be combined with our “Dinner and a Show” special, a dinner theatre experience in collaboration with Lorenzo’s (Rte. 28, Middleboro) 508-947-3000.  Three course meal including glass of wine for $21.95 bring receipt to our box office before the show and tickets are only $15.00. For more info about NRP please visit us on our website: www.nemasketriverproductions.com or on our FB, Flicker, Twitter,Tumble or Instagram sites.  You may also call our virtual box office 866 -244-0448 for reservations. Credit card purchases via EventBrite, through our website, and at the door.

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