UP POMPEII: The audio recording at London's Shaw Theatre
The cast of Up Pompei at London's Shaw Theatre: photo KimJones


Ooooh, no, please!  Home to a sparkling new audio recording of the late great Frankie Howerd classic Up Pompeii was the Shaw Theatre in Euston, London.With an all star cast which included David Benson, Frazer Hines, Cleo Rocos, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jack Lane, Madeline Smith, Camille Coduri, Rosa Coduri, Jilly Breeze, Ben Perkins and (Producer/Director) Barnaby Eaton-Jones, what better way to escape the doldrums of current day UK and escape to bygone Italy. To mark the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast on BBC's 'Comedy Playhouse' this new feature length audio recording by Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Ltd, adapted by Barnaby Eaton-Jones from the successful spin off stage play, will soon be available and trust me it will be an absolute treat.

Those of us of a certain age will remember with fondness the huge TV hit of Frankie Howerd which drew in a 12 million strong loyal following. Breaking the fourth wall, he took his audience into his confidence with a non-stop barrage of double entendres and risque gags, all of which were unheard by the other characters. We loved that, sharing a secret and being one up on the cast themselves. Well, this production was loyal to that design and succeeded gloriously.

After a charming introduction by Eaton-Jones, known for his love of golden oldies revivals, the cast took to their seats.This would be a straight through recording with no stops or cuts en route. No, it would be the task of our Director to play through the recordings of the two sessions and to make the necessary changes.

Playing the role of Lurcio was David Benson,known for his brilliant portrayals of Kenneth Williams and Noel Coward, who was phenomenal in his stage presence, holding the entire production together with his perfected portrayal of the wily slave made famous by the great Frankie Howerd. Clearly a labour of love, he relished every moment with his ooh and aah intonations, facial grimaces, subtle mannerisms, interaction and gestures. Yes, this was Lurcio/Howerd as I remember him and I am sure that Howerd, sitting on his fluffy cloud, would be delighted with the performance.

Nay, nay and thrice nay but this is delightfully a story of supreme daftness with cheeky exploits, farcical goings on, goofy innuendo and characters with gloriously suggestive names of Ludicrus Sextus, Nausius, Erotica, Voluptua, Treacherus, Kretinus and Suspenda  to name but a few. What's not to like! With no hope of uttering his proooo-logue, Benson was a treat and led us through the complications of the plot, which actually does not matter a jot, as it is the whole baloney and resigned acceptance of this cheeky chap that thrills. Received lovingly by the audience, the fabulous cast gave it their all. Were we tittering? Nay, we were guffawing. Such saucy stuff and such fun.
 
With much studied accuracy, the cast were having a ball playing their characters. Well done to Cleo Rocos in her role of Suspenda on maintaining her crazy, shrillish laughter. How does she do it. The result, high jinx which, after the editing that will surely follow, will allow for a great double CD.
 
With all good wishes to Barnaby Eaton-Jones and Spiteful Puppet Entertainment Ltd in their drive to revive the much loved Up Pompei despite any sinister rumbles from nearby Vesuvius.

As the man himself said: 'I will quote from the last words of Cleopatra to Mark Antony. If you liked it, tell your friends. Salute!'

To order a copy https://spitefulpuppet.com/product/up-pompeii-a-50th-anniversary-audio-revival-2-disc-set/ before its release date in late November where it will be available on CD or download via Amazon and iTunes.