Theatre Review: Up Pompeii


Presented by Tea Tree Players
Reviewed 25 May 2016

All Lurcio wants to do is deliver the prologue! Unfortunately the ins and outs of the household keep getting in the way. Up Pompeii is based on the popular BBC comedy television series and follows the household of Ludicrus Sextus as everyone tries to get a piece of the carnal action. Ludicrus is desperate for a rendezvous with the lusty Suspenda, while Lurcio bumps into escaped slave, Voluptua. All is going well until Ludicrus’ wife returns home and Nausius tries to muscle in on Lurcio’s woman. Up Pompeii is a farce in every sense of the word and this production manages to wrangle the multi-faceted show perfectly.

From the very beginning, this is Brendan Cooney’s show. As Lurcio, he carries the audience through the story. Cooney deftly improvises and interacts with the audience – even when the set seems to have a mind of its own. This is the perfect role for him and it is clear that he relishes every moment on that stage. James King as Nausius is similarly fantastic, using a combination of voice, face and body to portray the ridiculously over-the-top and romantically incompetent youngster.

Theresa Dolman as Ammonia

Theresa Dolman as Ammonia

In the role of Ludicrus, Nick Hargreaves cleverly delivers all of his witty dialogue and plays as the perfect foil to Cooney’s Lurcio. Theresa Dolman brings plenty of charm and humour to Ludicrus’ wife Ammonia as she searches for her long lost love with a pair of goggles.

As the two lovers, Kacy Ratta and Avril Kelly physically and comically personify these characters. Although the characters are thinly drawn, these two actresses make the most out of their stage time providing laughs aplenty. Anita Glocke in the role of Erotica performed well, especially in her lustful search for Corneous’ affections.

In smaller roles Damon Hill, Jake Kempster Male, Sean Venning and Tim Cousins all perform outstandingly in their roles. Hill, also responsible for the incredible set painting, had to step into the role of Senna at the last minute. This role is the epitome of farcical overacting and Hill controls it perfectly, adding just the right amount of excess to make it hilarious. Providing a solid foil to the extremity of Cooney’s character, Male underplays Corneous well as he tries to usurp Lurcio from the position of head slave. Venning and Cousins play the pirate slave traders well – the interaction between the two after an incident with a love potion is truly cackle-worthy.

Costumes, lighting and sound design all serve their purpose well but the real hero of this production is the incredible set design. Hill has once again worked his set painting magic to create a detailed and gorgeous set. Robert Andrews has cleverly used every element of the set to form varied and exciting stage moments. Possibly the most impressive component is the special effects used throughout including a smoking Vesuvius and the grand finale explosion.

With Up Pompeii, Tea Tree Players has put on a raucous evening of farce with a fantastic script and a fantastic cast to match. The show they have produced is of a very high quality and it would be ‘Ludicrus’ to miss it!

Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio

Venue: Tea Tree Players Theatre
Season: 25th May – 4th June
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $13 – $15
Bookings: by phone to 82895266 at the theatre every Tuesday and Thursday from 10.00am to 1-00pm
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