Review: AU's “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”
The show has its final performances this weekend at the Greenberg Theater
An upbeat and triumphant entrance set forth the energy and comedy of AU’s Department of Performing Arts’ “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum.” The show had its first performances at the Greenberg Theatre this past weekend and has more performances this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is filled with laughter, tragedy and romance.
The play takes place in ancient Rome, where three neighbors live adjacently. One house is a brothel, one is a family of Senex, Domina and son Hero and their slaves, and the third house, an old man. The show tells a comedic and chaotic story with themes of freedom and romance. Pseudolus, a slave undertakes many overlapping plans which turn to chaotic conflict, with the goal of winning her freedom from her master, Hero.
As the lights dim, the first sight is of Izzy Smelkinson, who plays Pseudolus. Pseudolus is a slave to the character “Hero” played by junior, Matt Winton, and is the main character whose comic appearance carries the show. Smelkinson effortlessly makes the stage her own as she breaks the fourth wall and explains to the audience that the performance they are about to see has over dramatic physical and vocal tones. The curtains open to a set that makes you feel like you are back in Ancient Rome, as the range of characters are introduced in the catchy opening number, “Comedy Tonight.”
Hero is a naive character, and throughout the play is too busy falling in love with a resident of the local brothel, Phillia (Lauren Farnell), to notice the schemes of Pseudolus and Hysterium (Mark Sullivan), another more loyal slave. Meanwhile, a captain of a far island, Captain Miles Glorious (Seth Andrew Waiting) is on his way to claim Philia as his new bride. The play is thus a farce involving many twists and turns, keeping the audience on its feet the entire time.
While the first act lagged a bit, being an hour and a half, the pace picks up in the second act, when the conflict escalates and a solution must be found in time. Pseudolus’ plans nearly fall apart as her lies pile up, causing her and Hysterium to run around stage, dressed up as reversed roles, which leads to more laughs from the audience. The chaotic energy from the characters is what makes the show so comical.
The pace in the first act is rather slow however the talented voices and physicality led the show. All of the female voices had incredible strength and talent that blew the audience away and outdid the male singers. The actors who stood out the most where Izzy Smelkinson, and Mark Sullivan, who kept the audience laughing with every unexpected and comedic move. Be sure to catch the final performances of this laugh out loud production this weekend on Oct. 29 and 30.