A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre
Through Oct. 3
Beef & Boards takes its turn at “comedy tonight” with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, last seen at Footlite in May.
When two theaters stage the same show so close to each other, you can’t help but make comparisons. In this case, while Footlite played up the “raucous” aspect of this show, B&B concentrates more on the silliness.
To recap the synopsis: The plot involves the people who live in three houses on the same street. The first is owned by Erronius, an old man searching for his children, who were abducted by pirates when they were small. The second is inhabited by Senex, his wife Domina, their son Hero and the family’s two slaves. The third is owned by Lycus, who sells women. The crux of the issue is that Hero has fallen in love with one of the women Lycus owns, a virgin who has already been sold. Hero’s slave, Pseudolus, desperately wants his freedom, and strikes a bargain with Hero: If Pseudolus can get Hero the woman he loves, Hero will set him free. And thus the comedy begins.
In typical B&B fashion, the show pushes the humor over the top — and in this case, director Douglas E. Stark has the cast pushing it way over the top, often to the point of losing the joke altogether. Routines seem strained. Characterization is lost in the chase for the ridiculous. This is most evident in Eddie Curry’s performance as Pseudolus. There is so much flailing about going on that it distracts from the humor. And Jeff Stockberger as Lycus resembles a demented Cowardly Lion.
Steve Asciolla and Corrine Grover are fine as Miles Gloriosus and Philia. Jason Shipman as Hero is gawky and sweet. But the single star of the show is Sean Blake as Hysterium. He puts an effeminate spin on his character, to great success. He reins in the performance just enough to keep the joke working — and outlandish.
Costume World costuming was appropriate, and Doug King’s choreography was a nice compliment, even if the small stage seemed a little crowded at times.
For ticket information, call 872-9664.