A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum | Gilbert and Sullivan Society of SALeft – (rear) Patrick Witcombe, Nicholas Bishop, Beau-Daniel Loumeau, (front) Chris Anderson and Tom Bubner. Cover – James Nicholson, Natalie Tate and Nicholas Bishop. Photos – Melissa Donato.

A Funny Thing happened on the stage of the Scott Theatre, but some of it could have been funnier. This is an extraordinarily silly show, only just salvaged by some good music by Stephen Sondheim. There is no doubt that the standard of amateur and pit orchestras in musicals has improved tremendously of late, and this band acquitted themselves well under the energetic direction of James Clark. The singing, both solo and ensemble, was also very creditable, right from the opening Comedy Tonight by the whole cast, and throughout.

But the writing and the plot give little scope for real comedy, or for this company of otherwise competent actors to strut their stuff under Barry Hill’s direction. Farce is a better description for it, but this is one of the hardest genres to pull off, even when it is well written, which is not an appellation I can give to this piece.

But if you want mistaken identity, cross-dressing, disguise, deception, high camp “eunuchs”, lithe and lissom lovelies (nicely executing Kerry Hauber’s choreography), Pythonesque Roman soldiers, a fair serving of slapstick, and a few good laughs, then this is the show for you.

Principal protagonist, Pseudolus (Nicholas Bishop), the seasoned John Greene, as Senex, and Anne Doherty as his wife, Domina (her bust and wig warrant credits of their own!) all make the most of what they are given, and do a fine job. James Nicholson as the hero, called Hero has a fine voice, but is somewhat soppy, giving the object of his affection, Philia (Natalie Tate) not a lot of reason to fall in love with him. Greg Beer makes a welcome addition to the company as Hysterium, and Renfrey Ansell’s cameo as Erronius is just right.

A good functional set by Chris Anderson, costumes by Bronwen Major, lighting by Laraine Wheeler and sound by Matthew Curtis are all well managed. Nevertheless, over all, the G&S Society has shown it can do better than this.

Gilbert and Sullivan Society of SA Inc. presents
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart | music and lyrics Stephen Sondheim

Directed by Barry Hill

Venue: Scott Theatre, Adelaide
Dates: 19 - 28 May 2011
Tickets: $60 – $20
Bookings: 8447 7239 | www.gandssa.com.au

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