Neil Turner's Blog

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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Poster for BUSOM's production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumOn Saturday, Christine and I went to see the latest show from BUSOM – the Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals – a performance of Stephen Sondheim‘s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

This is the second time that BUSOM have performed this show, following a previous production in 2003. Whilst I was a student at Bradford at the time, I didn’t see that show. This time, BUSOM returned for a fourth year at the Bradford Playhouse in their smaller studio theatre for a three night run.

Forum is set in Roman times, and tells the story of a slave, Pseudolus, seeking to earn his freedom by setting up his master’s son with a partner. Things don’t go according to plan, and in between the songs is a plot full of twists as the characters lie and disguise themselves to try to achieve their aims.

BUSOM has, historically, had more female members than male, which was part of the reason for their 2015 show Moby Dick, which has a mostly female cast. However, Forum has a mostly male cast, and so there was some gender swapping over and above that required in the script.

This year’s show benefited from strong direction, something that previous BUSOM shows, including those I’ve been involved in, have lacked. Stage positioning was much better in previous years and scene changes were tight. Whilst it was performed in a small studio theatre, the cast made the best use of the space and took full advantage of the more intimate environment.

The cast were strong and I think it was one of the best shows that the society have put on in years. It was particularly pleasing to see several new faces alongside those members who have been around for some time, and to see many older members in the audience. BUSOM shows have been getting better and better over the years but this sets the bar very high, and I look forward to seeing what the society can do next year.

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