Saturday 26 February 2011

Up Pompeii

Up Pompeii
Middlesbrough Theatre

As a fan of British comedy, I jumped at the chance of seeing a live version of 'Up Pompeii'. I was quite prepared to get my titters out and it's just as well, because it proved impossible to keep them in for very long at all.

The script, by Miles Tredinnick, was faithful to the style of Talbot Rothwell (the writer of the original series, plus numerous 'Carry On' films). Character names included 'Kretinous', 'Suspenda', 'Nausius' and 'Ludicrous Sextus'. 'Senna the Soothsayer' ('...a little of her goes a long way...') was another familiar character from the old series.

The plot, such as it was, revolved around the bawdy misunderstandings in a typical Roman household, all held up by an everlasting supply of double entendres.

Household slave Lurcio, the Up Pompeii linchpin, was played by Damian Williams (a familiar face from last year's tour of Hi-de-Hi, as was Ben Roddy as 'Corneous'). Instead of trying to imitate the great Frankie Howerd, Williams went his own way and this proved to be a good decision. He has enough comic personality of his own to be the front man of the show and his constant asides to the audience - often under the guise of trying to impart the prologue - kept things moving along at a terrific pace. On numerous occasions his facial expressions resulted in his fellow actors corpsing. In a show like this, it didn't spoil things at all.

The only thing missing was the occasional song, which would have been useful, at least for the start and finish of the show. (it worked for Hi-de-Hi last year).

We could all do with more laughs. Let's hope there are more of these revival plays on the way and that Damian Williams is again involved.


For further details, including tour dates, please click here.

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