The LipService lampooners are back with reluctant RSC actor Nick Lumley in tow and more withering glances and slap-bang humour than you can shake a crease-free toga at. Directed by Gwenda Hughes and actor-director Mark Chatterton, this new Greco spoof proves that, if anyone can take a parody a step too far and make the national gurning championships look like a line-up of raspberry blowing kindergarten, Sue Ryding and Maggie Fox can.
Nothing and no one escapes the satirical eye of this female Reeves and Mortimer, as they set about sending up just about every Greek cultural cliché imaginable in their latest tragedy spoof, Hector's House. The storyline - an abridged version of the Trojan War that would make Homer wince in shame, is virtually superfluous in this highly interactive show that looks to its audience for inspiration as much as we look to its players for entertainment. Commands to contribute lines of dialogue - I particularly liked one man's "Shropshire is the graveyard of ambition" witticism and assemble the (paper) fleet of 'a thousand ships' test the audience's intellect as well as their dexterity.
The concept starts to wear thin however, in the second half where you get the distinct impression that the playing-it-for-laughs mentality overrides the material. The script is almost completely sacrificed, as the cast seem anxious to get it all over and done with so they can slip off back to the taverna for a cuppa and an episode of Coronation Street. But then this anomalous group of am-drammers attempting to pull off something spectacular approach is all part of their zany appeal.
And what of the performances? The show opens with the two 'girls' earnestly introducing themselves as Audrey Openshaw and Olivia Marchant - chairwoman and secretary of the National Institute for Bringing Legends to Life Society. Nabbing the terribly professional Lumley was obviously a casting director's dream then, especially when he's an incredibly realistic replica of TV funnyman Russ Abbott. The threesome effortlessly adopt an array of characters and mythological beasts between them.