Reviewed by Katherine Damisch
“Comedy tonight”, indeed! A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest is a wacky, physical farce played at breakneck speed. All eyes turn to Tim Walsh as Pseudolus, slave to the boy Hero, who carries the play with inexhaustible energy, precise timing, and boisterous expression. His facial expressions and overall demeanor were reminiscent of Jerry Lewis, Nathan Lane, and Sid Caesar rolled into one delightful character.
The technical elements further lent themselves to this wacky subject matter. The set, made mostly of painted, two-dimensional flats of wood to form doors and walls, had a design that suggests the cartoonishness of Doctor Seuss. The costumes, while humbly crafted, were sufficient in suggesting setting and character. (The most notable of these is Domina’s getup, which looks like a manic Statue of Liberty.) The orchestra, while tiny at three members, morphed and molded their sound to fit the timbre of each song, though some of the tempos could have used some speeding up.
The director and the cast tackled a fast-paced show that could easily have gotten lost in its own speed. However, the plot was clear, and the majority of the laughs played off well. Even small moments that could easily have been ignored were stuffed full of giggles. The actors were well-cast, though it became obvious after a few numbers that the artistic staff prioritized the better actors, not singers, when hiring them. Still, they pulled off the material with a twinkle in the eye, and the audience went home happy. This is not a play to attend if you are looking for depth and character development; indeed, virtually every character is one-dimensional, which makes the comedy flow freer. But for an easy, whimsical evening, this play fits the bill nicely.