Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis


The piece opens in 84 A.D. Messina, Sicily, in the office of Don Giuseppe Baloni, a Sicilian mafia boss. He discovers that the Honorable Conkus Maximus, the Minister of Transport, can't meet with him because he is in Britannia for the opening of a new chariotway. The government plans to link Britannia to Rome with a channel tunnel and a series of chariotways; Baloni and his Brotherhood have secretly been planning to do the same. Baloni wants to persuade Gaius Julius Agricola, Governor of Britannia, who has been in charge of the chariotway project, to work with them. Baloni, his assistant, Virgil, and his Momma head for Britannia.

Act One 

We are now in Mancunium, Britannia. A ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the new chariotway is about to take place. Soldiers, majorettes and aristocratic guests wait for Conkus Maximus to arrive and open the chariotway. In the meantime, they celebrate and toast Agricola ("Viva Agricola"). As Agricola mingles with the guests, two unscrupulous Roman solders, Acrimonius and Parsimonius, sneak around the party eavesdropping on various conversations. They discover that the new chariotway does not link Rome to Carlisle, but actually stops at the Roman's Return – a pub in Ramsbottom, Britannia. Agricola threatens them if they share this news and then explains his reasons, both sentimental and practical, for not demolishing the Roman's Return ("The Boozer on the Highway"). The solders begin to tease Agricola, as they know his real reason for keeping the pub open: Gracie the barmaid.

Conkus Maximus arrives, and the majorettes greet him ("Viva Conkus"). He is appalled – there should be no celebrating at an official governmental ceremony. Conkus reminds Agricola that Romans are a superior race and that he is more superior than all of them ("Roman Superiority"). Conkus then dedicates the new chariotway to the Divine Vespasiana, a Roman engineer who invented the Taurus Soporens. He cuts the ribbon and declares the chariotway open. Agricola is ready to give him a tour of Mancunium, but Conkus wants to make an inaugural trip to Carlisle. As the road doesn't go to Carlisle, Agricola knows that he'll be in trouble when Conkus returns. Until then, he plans to go the Roman's Return. He leaves behind the group of hungry Roman aristocrats, who are all unhappy with Britannia's food and customs ("The Centre of Manners Is Rome").

Parsimonious and Acrimonius stay behind and complain about Agricola. Enter Baloni, Virgil and Momma, looking for Agricola. Parsimonius and Acrimonius tell them where he is. Baloni, Momma and Virgil discuss their plans to change Britannia ("Welcome Britannia"). They leave for Ramsbottom. Once they're gone, Conkus returns. 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 ("The Song of the Taurus Soporens"). Parsimonius and Acrimonius promise to help.

Act Two

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 – and the landlady – Annie Trotter. Accrington Stanley, the local drunk, is singing a bar song ("Julius Caesar"). When Stanley is finished, the others ask Gracie to sing. She sings of her love for Agricola ("In the Morning").

Jack Trotter, the landlord and Gracie's father, enters carrying a crate of beer. He lets everyone know that the cloggers will be arriving soon. Today is the day that they are competing for the Lancashire cup. Agricola arrives; he and Gracie flirt before Agricola mingles. Albert and Victoria, the two youngest Trotter children, run into the bar. They claim that they can hear a terrible noise coming from the moor... the Taurus Soporens. Annie and Jack do not believe them and as the cloggers arrive, they are cheering. They have won the Lancashire cup. They order a round of drinks and do their celebratory nut dance.

Baloni, Virgil and Momma arrive at the pub. Baloni makes an offer to Agricola to pay for the expenses of building various chariotways... under one condition: Momma gets to keep the Roman's Return and turn it into an Italian restaurant. Everyone in the pub is outraged. They kick Baloni, Virgil and Momma out. Agricola realizes who Baloni is and prides himself for saving the pub and all of Britannia from becoming mixed up in Sicilian mafia affairs ("The Day I Came to Rule Britannia"). Albert and Victoria run back into the pub, insisting that they are still hearing sounds from the moor. They can also see lights flashing. Two Roman soldiers arrive and tell Agricola that Conkus, Parismonius and Acrimonius are on their way with the Taurus Soporens; they intend to destroy the pub and all of its inhabitants. Agricola concocts a plan and assigns the locals to various tasks. Agricola and Gracie share a private moment together, fearing that they will be separated ("Several Years").

Baloni, Virgil and Momma are walking back to Messina, hoping to hitchhike. They are miserable in Britannia ("Intermezzo"). Parsimonius and Acrimonius enter, headed to the Roman's Return with Conkus and the Taurus Soporens. Baloni, Virgil and Momma decide to follow.

Act Three 

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 that will eventually release the great "hairnet device." Agricola comments on the beauty of the moors ("I Love These Moors"). In the distance, the sound of the Taurus Soporens is heard. The locals have concocted their own plan as well. The cloggers plan to clog up the wheels of the Taurus Soporens with fish ("The Tripe Dance").

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 becomes caught in the tripe, and the soldiers begin to slip. The locals then release the large hairnet that they have created, thus ensnaring the invaders.

Once the mayhem has ended, 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 the hope of building more chariotways with it, but Baloni offers to buy it from Agricola so that he can build his own roads. Agricola accepts Baloni's offer, using the money that Baloni has given him to buy the Roman's Return from Annie and Jack. Agricola and Gracie are finally running the pub and agree to marriage. Baloni gives Conkus a job driving the Taurus Soporens, and the entire town of Ramsbottom celebrates ("Wedding Bells, Finale").