Lurcio Lives at Leicester Square
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 26/09/10
This is classic comedy from scriptwriting legends Ray Galton and John Antrobus.
I'm not sure how long this script has been at the bottom of the drawer, but I think I spotted topical references to the Falklands conflict and Twenty Questions. So we're not expecting cutting-edge comedy here. What we do get is a brilliant cast wringing every last laugh from some vintage gags. Sample: "I shall be left dangling - or is that right dangling, it's so long since I was at the tailor's ..." This from narrator and imperial slave Gossipus Erectus [titter ye not], written for Frankie Howerd, and a straight steal from Up Pompeii. Wonderfully re-incarnated here by Clive Greenwood, who had a mini-hit here at the Leicester Square with "Goodbye" last year, channeling more greats from the broadcast comedy pantheon.
The other characters were less obviously derived, though Jamie Cartwright's monocled German Officer, Fiz Marcus's delicious Jewish Agrippina and Paul McEwan's husky John Hurt Totallus Corrupticus all hit the mark. Ashley McGuire did sterling character work with a grey-wigged granny Livia, and Oliver Ford had the best Latin name, as the stiff-upper-lipped British PoW Ginger Vitus.
Caligula himself was played by Jonathan Hansler, in a splendid purple toga, displaying the only nipple in evidence, and suitably deranged as he prepares to make love to his Nymph on a Plinth, a statue of the goddess Diana. Elliot Quinn was the Foley Artist responsible for the sound effects, on that occasion punching fist into palm to suggest the meat hitting the marble. There was music too, from Francesco Quadrolopolo - a big number, "Yo Yo Caligula!", and a catchy sig tune I found myself humming as I walked towards Picadilly Circus …
This ninety minute marathon was produced by Wireless Theatre Company's founder Mariele Runacre Temple, the first of a season at the Leicester Square. There's quite a following for Radio Comedy Tribute Shows, and an enthusiastic audience laughed as hard as it could. Maybe a longer warm-up might have helped, perhaps done by the reliably hilarious Howerd character.
Like all WTC's shows, it will be available as a free download at www.wirelesstheatrecompany.co.uk