A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum***** (Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne – 16 Nov 2012)

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Theatre

I last saw this at the National Theatre in London in 2004 and remember laughing a lot but, this time round, somehow Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics seemed sharper, his tunes more melodic and I laughed even more. This pays tribute to a terrific company and demonstrates that Australia is a major player in musical theatre, on this evidence up there with the West End and Broadway. Of course, the show is broad comedy, uninterrupted daftness and stands or falls on the central comic performance, played here by Geoffrey Rush. His reputation preceded him but, internationally, it is a reputation built on mostly serious roles. The Australians regard him as their greatest living stage actor so maybe they knew that his versatility stretched to this. I had no idea. He proved to be a magnificent comic, timing every line to perfection, grimacing, falling about and writhing around, almost in constant motion and on stage for 90% of the show. He seemed to be a man who comes to life when he sets foot on a stage and his obvious joy infected the Australian audience who were almost literally rolling in the aisles throughout. An unforgetable trip to theatre Heaven!

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