The Satyricon

Cast announced for ambitious new production of classical comedy.

A first-century comedy is being reimagined with a modern perspective this October, bringing an impressive range of new talent to the Edinburgh stage. In the fast and funny, not to mention filthy and philosophical, classic The Satyricon, thirteen actors will have plenty of scope to grab the audience’s attention.

Three young men, Encolpius, Ascyltos and Giton, are footloose in the Roman Empire. Narrator Gaius Petronius, who has been dead for 2,000 years, presents their adventures of deception and seduction, theft and violence, while the characters the trio come across are played by a cantankerous group of twenty-first century actors.

Martin Foreman has written and directs this version of the classic Latin text. Winner of the 2018 Pitlochry Festival Theatre Short Play Award, Martin’s previous drama includes Casanova Dreaming, Tadzio Speaks (aka Death on the Lido) and a revised version of Ben Jonson’s Volpone. He is supported by assistant director Junior (Graciela) Cross, who moved to Scotland in 2017 with twenty years’ experience in theatre in Buenos Aires. The Satyricon is a co-production between EGTG and Arbery Theatre.

Today every aspect of gender and sexuality is being examined and attitudes towards what is acceptable and what is not are rapidly changing,” says Martin. “The Satyricon is an opportunity to look back at a very different time and to wonder what future generations will think of our sexual behaviour today.

Many of The Satyricon‘s cast are recent drama graduates who have waited throughout the Covid pandemic to perform in live theatre. They include Joseph Cathal (Encolpius), who graduated in Drama, Theatre and Performance at West College Scotland; Rhona O’Donnell, Dance and Drama from Kingston University London; Lachlan Robertson, Drama and Performance at Queen Margaret University; and Lois Williams, Musical Theatre at Performing Arts Studio Scotland.

Others include Kelly Louise Edie, who studied for the Speech and Drama Diploma at the Edinburgh Acting School and Wendy McEwan and Karolina Oleskiewicz who studied at Acting Out Drama School. Nineteen-year-old Scott Adair (Giton), the youngest member of the cast, has no formal training but comes with a natural talent for stage and comedy.

Established actors in the cast include Ben Blow (Ascyltos), who founded the Reality Funds theatre company; Stephen Corrall (Petronius), who came to acting late in life but has built up an extensive career on stage and screen; Alastair Lawless’s credits include the title role in Volpone; Trev Lord is enthusiastically returning to drama after fifteen years absence; Robert Wylie has been an actor for over forty years and he has not let his diagnosis of Parkinson’s keep him from the stage.

The play is a challenge for the cast in many ways. Most scenes involve every actor and most play more than one character, involving quick changes from the wealthiest to the poorest in Roman society. The cast also double as stagehands, transforming the set from forum to brothel, inn to forest, bath-house to ship and more.

The Satyricon premieres at the Assembly Roxy at 19:30 on Wednesday 5 October (preview 19.30 Tuesday 4 October). Frequent sexual preferences – no, that’s not a typo – mean that the audience is limited to 16 years and above. And although The Satyricon is primarily a comedy, theatregoers are advised that some may find some scenes upsetting.

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