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Latin! or, Tobacco Boys

Running in tandem with David Benson's meditation on the life of Kenneth Williams is this madcap comedy, penned by Stephen Fry whilst still at Cambridge. It remains his only play to date. Fry has since gone onto to bigger and brighter things but Latin's amusing enough, a witty pastiche of the sort of traditional boys school immortalised in fiction. Described as 'a play in two unnatural acts' it's an uneven spoof that works well in parts- the final scene being a case in point- but seems flimsy and over-predictable in others.

Dominic Clarke is a new master at Chartham preparatory school. His aspirations include becoming headmaster and nocturnal extra-curricular activities with one of his pupils, predilections discovered by ageing senior master Herbert Brookshaw who exacts an unusual penalty. The audience is conscripted into the action, forming the class to whom Clarke teaches Latin on John Daniels' excellent set.

Mark Farrelly plays Clarke, David Benson is Brookshaw, the latter eventually finding that the lure of 'sun, sand and sensual pleasure' is too strong to resist. Farrelly plays for broad laughs and often hams it up too emphatically but Benson's Brookshaw is a delight, capturing the crusty pedagogue to perfection. He's a character who appears the epitome of the old-fashioned master yet secretly relishes some subversive proclivities including a passionate penchant for peanut-butter!

LATIN can be seen separately or as part of a double-bill with Think No Evil Of Us. 

(Amanda Hodges)

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