Fun and rowdy, this production of the Satyricon isn’t afraid of dealing with a debauched plot and the realities of the ancient world.

Even before the play begins we are given due warning: this is going to be a play full of sex, dildos, phallic vegetables and violence. Yes, it’s another evening in the Ancient World. Trigger warnings abound; this is Classics at its sexiest and rawest.

We are in the Roman Empire in the first century CE, but this is no historical drama. Instead, our main characters, Encolpius and his mate Ascyltus, are on an epic quest to get Encolpius’… ahem… mast raised, wood hard, tent pitched... you get the idea. Encolpius has lost this faculty after offending the god Priapus, god of the male member and beehives, though he insists that his loss of function and the latter are not connected. This is a (Roman) tragedy both for him and his relationship with his slave/lover Giton played tenderly by Daniel Chappell and Nicolau Lutz respectively. To get it back (up) and reunite with his lover, he must venture through brothels, participate in orgiastic rituals, stowaway on a pirate ship, shipwreck, attend an awfully awkward dinner party (imagine the worst swap possible) and, worst of all, contend with sex-mad women.

“The whole play feels like a stag night”

Their first challenge is to face the fearsome, dildo-sceptre-bearing Madam/high priestess played excellently by Catherine Longe. The second, attending an awkward dinner party hosted by Trimalchio: a freed slave, millionaire, and the man that inspired the story of the Great Gatsby. Alex Colville does a particularly brilliant job of portraying Trimalchio’s awful lack of social graces which on the one hand can be hilarious, but, on the other, he and the production could be a devastating reminder of some of the horrors of the ancient world: the slaves are abused and treated as sub-human, wives could be beaten at will, and shipwreck or violence is around every corner. Despite this Jamie Williams who plays Trimalchio’ wife puts on a good face and is a charismatic match for her husband.


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Review: Seduction

During one of the orgiastic rituals, Ascyltus, energetically and comically played by Martin Fearon, comments that it’s one of the best stag nights he has ever been to. Adapted from Petronius’ novel by Elliott Wright, the whole play feels like a stag night: it is rough and ready, chaotic, occasionally sexy, violent and perhaps best enjoyed after a few drinks. The place where it especially falls down is during scene changes which are far too long and suggest that there may have been some plot opportunities missed.

Even if you are not a Classicist, this is a fun play, just over an hour long, that will give you an insight into the mad world of the Classics Tripos

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