The promise of the first song – Comedy Tonight – holds true in the production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
It is fast, funny, knowing and delivered by a company which clearly relishes being on stage.
Thin on plot – the pursuiit of the desirable by the undesirable in Ancient Rome – it is, though, full of character and tunes.
Matt Stradlng as Prologus, the slave bidding for freedom – the role made famous by Frankie Howerd, holds the show together with a performance full of energy and sure delivery of innuendo and cheek.
Jannette DuPont is magnificent as brothel keeper Marcys Lycus. She commands the stage in each scene and number she has bringing a lovely licentiousness to proceedings.
Paul Buttner is all bluff and vanity as warrior Miles Glorious. There are two perfect double acts in the young lovers Stu Large as Hero and Katie Butner as Philia and Julian Law as Senex and Helen Dent as Domina.
Stand-out cameos are given by Jack Seals-Law as Hysterium – he definitley could be – and Josephine Pimm as Cleopatra.
This is not Sondheim’s most sophisticated score. There is none of the orchestral majesty of Into the Woods or the ballads or cynicism of Follies – but its battle of the sexes comedy does boast Comedy Tonight, Free, the satirical Lovely, Pretty Little Picture and the catchy Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.
Director Tim Tubbs keeps the pace lively and the tone knowing – fitting for a comedy full of asides and innuendo.
The musical is on at the Kirk Theatre, Pickering, on Monday November 5 and Tuesday November 6 and at Bridlington Spa on Thursday November 8 and Friday November 9.