Explain the legacy of Rome's seven kings in just 40 minutes and make it funny. It's the ideal challenge for Rome's English-speaking theatrical group, The Miracle Players, and as usual it is pulled off with aplomb.
A good 30 minutes before the "The Seven Kings of Rome" starts, there's no space left on the steps opposite the Mamertine Prison, facing the ruins of the Roman Forum.
An expectant crowd, seemingly still high on energy from a days sightseeing, now wants to round it off the with a comic history tour. It is not disappointed.
The story tells of the founding of Rome in 753 BC and its subsequent reign by seven kings, before the expulsion of the monarchy in 509 BC.
In Denise McNee, the players have a writer who can comfortably combine this history with good belly-laughs and the odd in-joke. She takes the writings of, amongst others, Livy, Dionysius, Cassius Dio and turns them into a high-octane, fact-based drama that maintains its fever pitch throughout. She effortlessly throws in a razor-sharp reference to Charles and Camilla before the show rounds off wonderfully with a comic take on Village Peoples classic song "YMCA" adapted to "SPQR".
The cast of Denise McNee, Rob Allyn, Eric Bassanesi, Frances Nacman and Dyanne White carry this off through a combination of versatility and raw energy; they star as a host of comic characters that includes the god Mars, the she-wolf that adopted Romulus and Remus and even a chariot horse.
There are also the kings themselves, including Numa Pompilius, Servius Tullius and if ever a name had comedy potential to be milked Tarquinius Superbus.
The Miracle Players perform in the Forum in front of the Mamertine Prison for the seventh year and it is this ability to come back each time with a new take on the oldest themes that ensures their continued success.
Testimony to this is the mood of the audience: as many of them make their way into the cool Roman night, there's a feeling that along with the laughs and the drama they have learned a little more about those historic sights that they saw earlier in the day.
"The Seven Kings of Rome", The Roman Forum, in front of the Mamertine Prison (entrance in Via dei Fori Imperiali). Tues and Sat (19.30). Until 13 August. Tel. 0670393427 or see www.miracleplayers.org.