If you need an antidote to England’s dismal performances in Brazil, then Burton’s Little Theatre Company (LTC) has just the thing you are looking for.
Up Pompeii the stage play was created in 1988 at the request of Frankie Howerd, who played the slave and narrator Lurcio in the television series, by Miles Tredinnick one of Howerd’s writers.
Set in the courtyard of Senator Ludicrus Sextus’s villa in Pompeii, a little before the event that put the town on the map, the play deals with the complicated and farcical events that ensue as the family members try to satisfy some of their baser urges.
The 11-strong cast led by Peter Clemson as Lurcio, who is on stage practically for the whole show, romped through the script with elan. The comic timing was spot on and each actor had chance to shine.
Clemson’s portrayal of Lurcio showed a deft touch that was more an homage to Frankie Howerd’s style than an out-and-out impersonation. There were of course moments when the ghost of Howerd came through but for the most part he made the role his own.
Members of the audience also played a major part in the recreation of this classic comedy, swiftly getting into their role as confidant to the hapless Lurcio and providing him with a sounding board for his devious plans to both facilitate everyone’s desires and prevent himself being fed to the lions.
Poor Lurcio is taken on a roller coaster ride as each family member in turn uses him to help them achieve their ends, so to speak.
The cast members seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves playing their parts and playing up their parts, with Peter Banton’s portrayal of Captain Treacherus such a total pantomime villain that it is hard not to boo his every entrance.
Vicky Fryer as Suspenda, the well-known nymphomaniac and beauty, has a laugh that is at least as dirty as Sid James’ ever was. At one point poor Lurcio wishes she was in the audience when one of his asides fails to get the response he requires.
Laughs are generously shared around the cast, but as it was written for Howerd the majority are reserved for Lurcio who holds all the strands of the tale together.
The audience on opening night had a whale of a time and there were many complimentary remarks overheard in the bar both during the interval and at the end. There was also quite a lot of activity regarding the show on social media afterwards.
Written by Miles Tredinnick and performed by the Little Theatre Company, Up Pompeii is just the comedy to take your mind off the on-going tragedy that seems to be English sport at the moment.
Up Pompeii is on at the Brewhouse arts centre in Union Street, Burton, until Saturday night at 7.30pm with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets are priced at £8 with £7 concessions available Wednesday and Thursday nights. All matinee tickets are £7. Buy them from the Brewhouse box office or by calling 01283 508100.