Up Pompeii (tour – Cambridge)
Sending a particular theatrical genre up rotten is perfectly legitimate. Trouble, however, can occur when you send up a send-up.
Baroque Theatre's summer touring production is Up Pompeii, the stage version by Miles Tredinnick of the television series by Talbot Rothwell and Sid Colin which starred the late Frankie Howerd. I saw this in its inaugural production three years ago, where it worked reasonably well.
For Baroque, director and designer Adam Morley adds a number of ad-libs – which presumably vary to suit the town in which the production is performing – and has slave-driver, galley-owner Captain Treacherus played by a woman, Janna Fox in full-on dominatrix mode. Clive Greenwood also makes much of the role of Lurcio, the head slave entangled in the love and lust affairs of his owners.
Nominally, the household is headed by Senator Ludicrous Sextus (Russell J Turner) who preaches good old-fashioned Roman morality but doesn't actually practise it. The current object of his desire is Suspenda, as whom Jill Davy poses as a sort of Emma Hamilton, all Attic attitudes.
His teenage son Nausius (Paul Andrew Goldsmith) meanwhile yearns after escaped slave-girl Voluptia; Tabitha Willsea doubles as daughter-of-the-house Erotica.
Determined to take over Lurcio's job is Corneous (Lawrence Ward). Goldsmith also plays a sidekick of a very different stripe – Treacherus' aptly-named Kretinus. Then there's the woe-predicting Senna the soothsayer (Claire Bibby in full-blown Cassandra mode) and the mistress of the household, Amonia (also played by Bibby).
Quick changes are in order as it all plays out – rather too ponderously for such quick-fire nonsense – on a pillared set with a backcloth to remind us of what is about to happen. It is, after all, 79AD.
Up Pompeii tours nationally until 8 August.