This was written as a preview/press release, intended to entice the audience to see the show while, at the same time, providing enough basic information to serve as a refresher to someone who might have seen it before and a guide to someone who might need it to teach a quick class on the play. Note: in this production, the roles of Pseudolus, conventionally a man, was played by a woman.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart, Stephen Sondheim
Pseudolus wants to be free. Not an unusual thing for a slave in Rome (second century, BCE) to want, but a rare thing for her to receive. Pseudolus, however, possesses the one gift the gods grant to the terminally lazy–boundless cleverness and uncommon guile. Being smarter than your owners is a great boon to a slave angling for her heart’s desire. When her masters, Domina and Senex take a trip to the country, Pseudolus discovers that Hero, the adolescent son of the house, is passionately in love with a young virgin next door. This revelation launches her headlong into a scheme to get Hero his girl in exchange for her freedom.
This being a comedy, there are, of course, complications. Hysterium, loyal slave of the household, has been charged by the aptly-named Domina with guarding Hero’s moral well-being while his parents are away. Naturally, he stands in Pseudolus’ way. Then it comes out that the virgin, Philia, is a recent acquisition of Lycus, the buyer and seller of courtesans, and is already promised to the great captain, Miles Gloriosus. And so the plot, like a fine stew, thickens. Amply stocked with a young couple in love, a domineering wife and her lustful, hen-pecked husband, an old man who has lost his children, a mighty warrior in love with his own reputation and a pressing need for a vial of mare’s sweat, all that is needed to bring the madcap hi-jinks to a boil is the witty and engaging score by Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim