Words by Stephen Sondheim and Music by Stephen Sondheim
Nuffield Theatre,
January 2010
Director: Roger Lamb
Cast List
Marcus Lycus
Miles Gloriosus
The Geminae
The Geminae

Notes on this performance

112. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum                                                

A show of surprises…

Forum is not the usual fare for SOS and it is a surprise that the Society actually performed it! The Future Shows Committee pencilled it into the Five Year Plan in the furthest spot possible confident that another show would most probably turn up before then. However, the licence for Me and My Girl was suddenly unavailable, EOMS decided to perform Carmen a couple of months before the planned date (and later changed their minds) and the rewrite of Orpheus would not be ready in time, so A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum rose to the top of the list.

Rachael Hackett agreed to return as MD and Ross Cogswell (from RAODS) was keen to direct. Ross was very enthusiastic and had elaborate plans to involve all the members on a very busy stage where there would ‘always be something happening for the audience to look at.’ However, it became clear during the run of The Gondoliers that his enthusiasm was not shared by the membership as people claimed that ‘there wasn’t enough part singing’ or ‘there was insufficient chorus involvement’ and the anticipated cast of forty quickly diminished. In July, with some justification, Ross declared that he doubted the commitment of SOS and resigned as Director.

Fortunately, Roger Lamb agreed to take over (assisted by Marina Voak), a few people were persuaded to ‘give it a go’ and in September a small cast of 24 gathered to start rehearsals. Somehow it appeared to be the perfect cast for the job and principal auditions revealed several people playing their perfect roles. The Echo reported: ‘The show started hesitantly but the principals accelerated into their characters during the first act leaving us with some well thought out personalities to carry the humour. There was some great acting and some lovely singing but not always from the same people and it was a little too quiet at times. The show managed to carry any less than perfect moments with its amusing storyline and some good visual humour. Nick Hollands (Pseudolus), David Collis (Hysterium) and Colin Sly (Senex) provided many energetic and entertaining moments but some of the biggest laughs went to Terry O’Farrell (Erronius) in his cameo. Victoria Luke (Domina) added to the chaos with her larger than life personality. Good fun and reasonably slick. An enjoyable night.’ 

Special mention must be made of Colin Sly who excelled in his many ‘over the top’ comedy moments (sadly and unknowingly, he was playing his last ever role for SOS), Nick Hollands who was able to ad-lib his way in character when necessary, David Collis who ‘came alive’ when he was in a dress and Mike Pavitt who was very convincing as Miles Gloriosus. Rehearsals were fun and notable for Roger’s insistence on a thorough ‘warm up’ before starting – although this was not universally popular, the company still warmed up together before every performance

Unfortunately, Forum appeals to a niche audience, which does not include many SOS followers, so it made a loss of £1962. However, another SOS Director, David Tatnall, made the most pleasing comment, “I loved that! I was expecting to see the worst show SOS had ever done when actually it was the best!”

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Domina

David Collis (Hysterium), Matthew Pike (Hero), Victoria Luke (Domina)

Photo of Philia

Biba Tribensee (Philia), Tony Lehrle-Fry (Marcus Lycus), Nick Hollands (Pseudolus), Matthew Pike (Hero)

Photo of Quartet

Tony Lehrle-Fry (Marcus Lycus), Colin Sly (Senex), David Collis (Hysterium), Nick Hollands (Pseudolus)

Photo of Erronius

Terry O'Farrell (Erronius) watched by Mike Pavitt (Miles Glorious), Nick Hollands (Pseudolus), the girls and the soldiers

Photo of Lovely

Nick Hollands (Pseudolus) and David Collis (Hysterium)

Photo of Senex

David Collis (Hysterium) and Colin Sly (Senex)