Titter ye not! Up Pompeii is coming to the Barn Theatre in Welwyn Garden City

Paul Russell as Lurcio, Mark Skrebels as Captain Treacherus, and Carl Westmoreland as Corneus in Up Pompeii

Paul Russell as Lurcio, Mark Skrebels as Captain Treacherus, and Carl Westmoreland as Corneous in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii - Credit: John Davies

Woe, woe and thrice woe... The Barn Theatre is set to erupt with titters!

For a stage adaptation Up Pompeii is coming to the Welwyn Garden City theatre.

As the final curtain comes down on Goodnight Mr Tom, the Barn’s Christmas show, the auditorium is set to erupt with titters galore as Up Pompeii takes to the stage this Friday.

The original television version of Up Pompeii consisted of just 13 episodes back in 1970, and remains lodged in the British comedy psyche to this day.

Its enduring appeal is down almost entirely to Frankie Howerd’s performance of Lurcio, the idle slave who attracts every kind of chaos.

Rock musician and screenwriter Miles Tredinnick wasn’t fazed when Frankie Howerd asked him to adapt Up Pompeii for the stage.

Hannah Sayer as Suspenda and Chris White as Ludicrus in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii

Hannah Sayer as Suspenda and Chris White as Ludicrus in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii - Credit: John Davies

He said: “All I had to do was give the play ‘legs’, make the script stretch out to a full evening’s entertainment of two hours and make sure that Frank had the lion’s share of the gags but not the running around."

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“I’m not as agile as I was, Miles,” Howerd explained, “make sure I chase all the girls but make sure they're the ones who run out of breath.”

First staged at Chesterfield in 2011, Tredinnick's adaptation became an audience favourite and now director Maureen Davies is delighted to bring it to the Barn stage with the ever-comic and versatile Paul Russell stepping effortlessly into Howerd’s shoes.

She said: "I do have a terrific cast, who've totally bought into the humour of this piece.

"I don't think I have ever worked on a play where we have, literally, laughed our way through rehearsals."

Mary Powell as Senna and Paul Russell as Lurcio in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii

Mary Powell as Senna and Paul Russell as Lurcio in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii - Credit: John Davies

From 1970, and about events two millennia prior, the humour feels like a product of both time periods: a lot less politically correct than current tastes, but satisfyingly funny.

So, if you like a bit of sauce with your theatre, then this is right up your alley. This show relies shamelessly on innuendo and double-entendres.

The events are set in the town of Pompeii, mixing historical elements of anything from Spartacus to the Vesuvius eruption.

The main character, Lurcio, is the only one who’s aware he’s in a play, and keeps making side jokes to the audience.

Much of the action takes place in the courtyard of Senator Ludicrus Sextus, just before Vesuvius erupts.

The play deals with the antics of his family as they try to satisfy their basic urges, while Lurcio, the head slave, attempts to keep the audience up to date with Howerdesque asides.

Hannah Humbles as Erotica and Carl Westmoreland as Corneus in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii

Hannah Humbles as Erotica and Carl Westmoreland as Corneous in the Barn Theatre's production of Up Pompeii - Credit: John Davies

The family includes Ammonia, wife of Sextus, promiscuous daughter Erotica, and virginal son Nausius.

You get the picture – just pretend the last 40 years didn’t happen and enjoy the ride!

Up Pompeii is scheduled to run in the Barn main house from Friday, January 14 to Saturday, January 22 at 8pm, with a matinee at 2.30pm on January 22.

Tickets cost £13 and are available from the box office 01707 324300 or online at www.barntheatre.co.uk