A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
|Date||7th October 2017|
|Society||Putteridge Bury G & S Society|
|Venue||Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Jane Stott|
Author: Richard Lovelock
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum was Stephen Sondheim’s first major success and it still has a timeless charm. A farcical romp through ancient Rome where identities constantly get mistaken, houses get mixed up and we get a fair share of bawdy humour.
Central to all the comings and goings is the slave Pseudolus played by Bryony Growdon - a difficult part to pitch correctly. She connected well with the audience - although I did not understand the reason for the American accent. Along with another slave Hysterium – well played with lots of energy by Graham Breeze – they managed to keep the action rolling throughout. I particularly liked Graham’s ‘dead’ scene with some good comic timing.
Pseudolus’ master Senex was played confidently by Peter Sayers, upbeat when chasing the ladies but downtrodden in the presence of his battle-axe of a wife Domina (Sue Wookey); both excelled in their roles - Sue managed to get a laugh with just the rise of an eyebrow and I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of “That Dirty Old Man”.
Richard Fraser as Marcus Lycus, the proprietor of the local house of ill repute, was suitably sleazy whilst trying to control his courtesans – Alison Gibbs, Paula Fraser, Vikki Rehm, Stevie Gibbs, Tammy Wall and Ketina Orriss.
The centre of the story revolves around Pseudolus’ attempt to arrange a relationship between the dumb blond virgin Philia (Elle-Louise Berrie) and Hero (Joe Elmer), the problem being that she has already been sold to the Captain of the army Miles Gloriousus played in domineering fashion by Barny Shergold. Meanwhile Erronious (Jon Newham) returns from seeking his lost children only to be sent on a walk around the seven hills of Rome.
The cast was completed by the Proteans played by Teresa Newham, Catherine Robertson and Rob Jones – who also doubled as the Eunoch.
The set was simple but worked efficiently, with a number of entrances which gave great scope to the comings and goings to the cast, particularly in the final rush around the stage. I did though think the door handles looked very out of place in Ancient Rome. The lighting was good throughout and added to the atmosphere when required.
Some of the costumes were very good and fitted the times, I liked the way that Philia, Hysterium and Domina were all made to look similar at the end. However a few costumes did look quite strange and I was not sure why one of the courtesans was a dominatrix and another a cat.
Even without amplification every word could be heard and particularly in the ensemble numbers the singing was lovely. Musical Director Jane Stott and her four piece band never overplayed those on stage and sounded just right.
It was obvious that the cast enjoyed themselves, and when that happens so does the audience.