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Grantham Dramatic Society's Roman romp is an absolute winner



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Grantham Dramatic Society's latest production 'Vice Versa' was advertised as "a right rude Roman romp" and certainly lived up to that description on Friday night.

GDS believes that theirs was possibly the first amateur production of Phil Porter's hilariously lewd comedy.

Porter's script was loosely based on Roman playwright Plautus' play 'Miles Gloriosus'.

General Braggadocio (Paul Connor), Omnivorous (Stephen Marsland), Feclus (Debs Hart) and Dexter (Alan Bontoft). (53238102)
General Braggadocio (Paul Connor), Omnivorous (Stephen Marsland), Feclus (Debs Hart) and Dexter (Alan Bontoft). (53238102)

A near-capacity audience at the Guildhall lapped up the bawdiness, exuded no more than by the central character General Braggadocio who was played splendidly and with relish by Paul Connor in a kind of Leslie Phillips-eque lothario meets TV sitcom Porridge's Mr Mackay manner.

Braggadocio's enslaved concubine Voluptua (Briony Sparrow), her secret lover Valentin (Luke William) and servant Dexter (Alan Bontoft) plot to escape the general's household and humiliate him in the process.

Voluptua (or is it Drusila?) played by Briony Sparrow and Valentin (Luke William). (53238092)
Voluptua (or is it Drusila?) played by Briony Sparrow and Valentin (Luke William). (53238092)

The trio are helped by sex mad but impotent old magistrate Philoproximus (Gus Sparrow), a mischievous monkey called Terence (Tricia Burney-Davis) who had no lines but caused laughter and mayhem aplenty, and Drusila – Voluptua's Greek identical twin 'sister', again played by Briony Sparrow.

Servant Feclus (Debs Hart) spots Voluptua and Valentin making love while she chases the general's monkey (that was not a euphemism, although there were plenty of a similar nature throughout the script) and informs Braggadocio.

General Braggadocio (Paul Connor) and Terence the monkey (Tricia Burney-Davis). (53238087)
General Braggadocio (Paul Connor) and Terence the monkey (Tricia Burney-Davis). (53238087)

Dexter in the meantime comes up with the idea of convincing the general that Voluptua has a twin sister – and the plan succeeds with the 'sisters' swapping households via the roof time and again to completely bamboozle Braggadocio.

The Roman romp was delightfully peppered with allusions to the modern world, none more so than with the unloading of the supermarket shopping delivery scene, hilariously delivered by Alan Bontoft's Dexter, with every item of food forming part of the script.

Feclus figures out what is going on with the 'sisters' but meantime Dexter convinces Braggadocio that a new love interest is in town – namely ageing, triple-toothed, pregnant prostitute Climax, played sublimely by Heather Butterworth.

As randy as Braggadocio may be, even he is not that desperate and turns his attention to Voluptua's 'sister' Drusila. He fails and Voluptua and Drusila together bleed Braggadocio dry of both money and possessions.

The young lovers and Dexter escape by boat, leaving Braggadocio tied up and informed of the truth by Philoproximus and how he has been cuckolded and tricked.

Dexter (Alan Bontoft), Philoproximus (Gus Sparrow) and Valentin (Luke William). (53238097)
Dexter (Alan Bontoft), Philoproximus (Gus Sparrow) and Valentin (Luke William). (53238097)

The last of three musical ditties signalled the end of the play and with it warm applause from the appreciative audicence who went home with sides still aching.

Other players were Stephen Marsland (Omnivorous), Nicki McKay (Impetus/Roman Tourist Board/Vestal Virgin), Hugh Butterworth (Slave/Vestal Virgin/Roman Soldier), Gemma Dove (Ocadus) and Sue Taylor (Tourist Board/Vestal Virgin).

The play was directed by Allison Allen and Mark Brown, and produced by Joy Wilson.



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