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The Norman Conquests 

When: Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays, 4 p.m., Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. Continues through Sept. 6 2010
Price: $20-$25 per show; $50 for all three

It's hard to love Norman, for his wine-induced serenades, lecherous overtures, and quirky sartorial choices. He's the guy who takes everything too far and acts on every impulse. A hot mess. The one you love to hate. As interpreted by Richard Reinholdt in a new Shotgun Players rendition of The Norman Conquests, he's a librarian trapped in a lion's body. Reinholdt plays the role swimmingly, prancing about in a pair of leopard-print jammies, flirting with his in-laws, and filling every scene with his bestial presence. He's a comic foil to every other character in Alan Ayckbourn's 1973 comic trilogy -- doddering Tom (Josiah Polhemus), prissy Sarah (Kendra Lee Oberhauser), spinster Annie (Zehra Berman), and especially his striver wife Sarah Mitchell (played with wincing precision by Killing My Lobster member Sarah Mitchell). Shotgun had the wild idea of staging all three chapters of The Norman Conquests concurrently, with one cast and three different directors. Vocal coaching by Trish Mulholland lends BBC authenticity to each line. Through September 5 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $20-$25. ShotgunPlayers.org

— Rachel Swan

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