The Roman Invasion of Ramsbottom
Musical in 3 acts: Music by David Nield, book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor
What would have happened if the Romans had built the motorways? Gaius Julius Agricola, Governor of Britannia, tries to extend the C6 Chariotway to Carlisle but Roman might is defeated by Lancastrian tripe in Ramsbottom. A lively and humorous account of this little-known episode in English history; another gem from the National Youth Music Theatre.
The setting is 9th century Roman Britannia, and only two things stand in the way of Sicilian mafia boss Don Baloni's plan to commandeer the new British roads and turn the future England into a bonanza of Italian take-out restaurants and ice cream stands: a quaint pub sitting smack in the middle of the construction zone, and its feisty British patrons. It's an hilarious, anachronistic and very English farce with shades of Monty Python.
The piece opens in Messina, Sicily 84 A.D. We are in the office of Don Giuseppe Baloni, a Sicilian mafia boss known within the Brotherhood (the Sicilian mafia) as the "Grandfather". He is asking his secretary, Virgil, to escort his next client, the Honourable Conkus Maximus, the Minister of Transport, into his office. Virgil explains that Conkus Maximus is unable to make an appearance and that he sends his apologies. Maximus has travelled to the remote island of Mancunium, Britannia (Britan) to open the new chariot way linking Rome to Carlisle (which is also in Britannia). Gaius Julius Agricola, Governor of Britannia, and a Roman, has been collaborating with Conkus to make the link between Rome and Britannia become a reality. Agricola's plan is to extend chariot ways throughout Northern Europe. Baloni sees this as an opportunity. The Brotherhood has secretly been "planning" to do the same. Baloni sees Britannia as an ideal storage and supply point for the Brotherhood as well as a way to link their goods and services to all of Northern Europe. Baloni and Virgil plan to leave Sicily to find Agricola and "persuade" him to continue to build charioteers for the Brotherhood. The two are interrupted by Momma, a Sicilian matriarch. Baloni tells Momma to pack her bags, they're headed to Britannia.
We are now in Mancunium, Britannia. Standing before the celebratory gateway of the North Western wall of the Fortress of Mancunium are solders, Roman aristocrats, majorettes, and Governor Agricola. This is also where the ribbon ceremony is to take place, marking the opening of the new chariot way leading to Carlisle. While the people wait for Conkus Maximus to arrive, they also begin to celebrate the completion of the chariot way. Agricola is quite popular and loved by many. While Agricola is mingling with the majorettes and aristocrats, the Roman solders Acrimonius and Parsimonius, two rather unscrupulous characters, begin to sneak around the party, eavesdropping on various conversations. They begin to guests that the road linking Rome to Carlisle has not been finished but stops at the Roman's Return Public House in Ramsbottom, Britannia. Agricola cuts the two off and threatens them with a transfer if they continue to gossip. Agricola then explains his reasons, both sentimental and practical, for not demolishing the Roman's Return when building the chariot way. Agricola declares the Roman's Return will never be demolished, regardless of what Conkus Maximus may think. The solders begin to tease Agricola. They know Agricola's real reason for keeping the pub open; Gracie the barmaid.
Conkus Maximus has arrived. The majorettes greet him. He is appalled. There should be no celebrating at an official governmental ceremony. Conkus reminds Agricola that Roman's are a superior race and that he, Conkus Maximus, is indeed more superior then them all. Acrimonius and Parsimonius soon join in.
Conkus dedicates the new chariot way to the Divine Vespasiana, a Roman engineer who invented the Taurus Soporens (a bulldozer). Conkus cuts the ribbon and declares the chariot way open. Conkus is ready to make the inaugural trip to Carlisle. Agircola tries but cannot stop Conkus from heading to Carlisle. Agricola decides there's no point in fighting Conkus, he knows he is going to be reprimanded or demoted when Conkus returns. Instead, Agricola heads to Ramsbottom to visit the Roman's Return, leaving behind hungry Roman aristocrats who are unhappy with Britannia's food and customs. They all leave to dine.
Parsimonious and Acrimonius stay behind to discuss Agricola. They dislike him and are convinced Conkus will have him fired after his inaugural trip to Carlisle. Enter Baloni, Virgil, and Momma, looking for Agricola. Parsimonius and Acrimonius approach Baloni and tell him where to find Agricola. Baloni, Momma and Virgil discuss their plans to change Britannia ("Welcome Britannia") They leave for Ramsbottom. Enter Conkus. His chariot has crashed into the side of the Roman's Return and he has broken his nose. He is furious and vows to demolish the pub, and the people inside of it, with the Taurus Soporens. Parsimonius and Acrimonius promise to help.
We are now at the Roman's Return in Ramsbottom, Britannia. The pub is packed with locals. Behind the bar is Gracie, the barmaid, and her mother, the landlady, Annie Trotter. Accrington Stanley, the drunk local comic, is singing a bar song. When Stanley is finished singing, the locals ask Gracie to sing. She sings of her love for Agricola.
Enter Jack Trotter, the landlord and Gracie's father, carrying a crate of beer. He lets everyone know the cloggers will be arriving soon. Today is the day they are competing for the Lancashire cup. Not a moment later, Agricola shows up. Gracie and Agricola flirt and then Agricola begins to mingle. Albert and Victoria, the two youngest Trotter children, run into the bar. They claim they can hear a terrible noise coming from the moor and they believe it to be the Taurus Soporens. Annie and Jack do not believe them. Offstage, cheering is heard. The Cloggers are back and they have won the Lancashire cup. They order a round of drinks and do the celebratory "Nut Dance".
The door of the pub opens and in comes Baloni, Virgil, and Momma. Baloni approaches Agricola and offers to pay for the expenses of building various chariot ways under one condition; Momma gets to keep the Roman's Return and turn it into an Italian Restaurant. All in the pub are outraged. They kick Baloni, Virgil, and Momma out of the pub. Agricola realizes just who Baloni is and prides himself for saving the pub and all of Britannia from becoming mixed up in Sicilian mafia affairs.
Albert and Victoria run back into the pub, insisting they are still hearing sounds from the moor. They can also see lights flashing. Enter Ingenious and Scandalus, two Roman soldiers. They have come to tell Agricola that Conkus, Parismonius and Acrimonius are on their way with the Taurus Soporens to destroy the pub and all of its inhabitants. Agricola concocts a plan and assigns the locals various tasks. Agricola and Gracie share a private moment together, fearing that they will be separated. They decide to wait for one another if they are separated and one day run their own pub together.
Baloni, Virgil, and Momma are walking back to Messina. They are miserable in Britannia and begin to hitchhike. Enter Parsimonius and Acrimonius. They are headed to the Roman's Return with Conkus the Taurus Soporens. Baloni, Virgil, and Momma decide to follow...it's revenge!
Back at the Roman's Return, the locals are ready for action. Some are keeping watch on the roof of the pub while others hold a rope, which will, eventually, release the great "hairnet device". Agricola comments on the beauty of the moors. In the distance, the sound of the Taurus Soporens is heard. The locals have concocted their own plan as well. The Cloggers perform the, planning to "clog up" the wheels of the Taurus Soporens with tripe (fish). Conkus, Parsimonius, Acrimonius, Baloni, Virgil, Momma, a league of Roman Soldiers, and the Sicilian Brotherhood head for the pub with the Taurus Soporens. Fortunately, the bulldozer is caught in the tripe and the soldiers begin to slip. At this moment, the locals release the large hairnet they have created, ensnaring the invaders. Agricola vows to protect the heritage of Britannia and finish the road to Carlisle by building the Ramsbottom By-pass. Agricola decides to keep the Taurus Soporens in hope of building more chariot ways with it. Baloni offers to buy it from Agricola, in hopes of building his own roads. Agricola accepts Baloni's offer, using the money Baloni has given him to buy the Roman's Return from Annie and Jack. Agricola and Gracie run the pub. Baloni gives Conkus a job driving the Taurus Soporens.
Agricola and Gracie are married. The Entire town of Ramsbottom celebrates.
5 female (3 non-singing), 11 male (4 non-singing)
- Accrington Stanley - a pub-frequenting local comic
- Acrimonius - an evil tribune
- Agricola - Governor of Britannia, fun-loving
- Albert - Annie and Jack's young son
- Annie Trotter - proprietor of the Pub
- Conkus Maximus - big-nosed Roman officer
- Dolly Diggle - the local barfly
- Don Giuseppe Balon - the mafia Boss of Sicily
- Elsie - a bossy and loud English wife
- Gracie - barmaid and charmer
- Jack - proprietor of the Pub with wife Annie
- Little Lil - petite, loves milk stout
- Momma - Baloni's Old World momma
- Parsimonius - an evil tribune, Acrimonius' accomplice
- Rita - Lancashire's feared meter maid
- Victoria - Annie's young daughter
- Virgil - Baloni's secretary
Also: at least 30 more named roles - plus a chorus. Lots of room for doubling between scenes
- Viva Agricola - Majorettes, Chorus
- The Boozer On The Highway - Agricola, Chorus
- Viva Conkus - Majorettes
- Roman Superiority - Conkus Maximus, Acrimonius, Parsimonius
- The Centre Of Manners Is Rome - Aristocrats
- Welcome Britannia - Baloni, Virgil, Momma, Acrimonius, Parsimonius
- The Song Of The Taurus Soporens - Conkus Maximus, Acrimonius, Parsimonius
- Julius Caesar - Stanley, Chorus
- In The Morning - Gracie, Chorus
- The Nut Dance - Orchestra
- The Day I Came To Rule Britannia - Agricola, Chorus
- For Several Years - Agricola, Chorus
- Intermezzo - Baloni, Virgil, Momma
- I Love These Moors - Agricola, Gracie, Chorus
- The Tripe Dance - Agricola, Gracie, Chorus
- Wedding Bells - Agricola, Gracie, Chorus
Reed I (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet), Reed II (alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Reed III (tenor sax, clarinet), Reed IV (flute, tenor sax, clarinet), 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, opt. tuba, piano, bass (or tuba)