Review By Regan Baker
Silly, side-splitting, nonsensical fun. Is there any other way to describe a musical that has been lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail? I don’t think so! Though Monty Python’s classic comedy trio of The Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, were released well before my time, they have been staple rotation films for the better part of my entire life. When it comes to films, we unfortunately live in a time of remakes and sequels - hell, the Fast and the Furious franchise is up to its ninth instalment (even though the definitely should have stopped right before Tokyo Drift)! So how do you bring a staple film from 1975 into the modern day without completing destroying it? Spamalot is your answer!
Written by Eric Idle, Spamalot takes all of the best bits from The Holy Grail, adds a dash of nostalgia from The Life of Brian, incorporates a range of new tunes by John Du Prez and Eric Idle and brings it all to the boil on stage. A unique and immersive experience, Spamalot breaks not only the fourth wall, but removes the concept of walls altogether with select premium seating available on both sides of the stage, the audience becomes a part of the show.
After a couple of short quips to get the audience warmed up, the show opens in classic Monty Python fashion with the well-loved coconut shell horse gag. What followed was a well-rounded, one-set show that focussed on comedic one-liners and slapstick comedy. While it’s not in the original motion picture, even “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” made a special guest appearance and the audience instinctively and in unison, knew to sing along. From Coles shopping trolleys doubling as great ships, and audience members being asked to hold reigns of King Arthur’s invisible horse, the gags were consistent from start to finish and stitched together nicely in a fabulously executed performance.
With the exception of Josie Lane as the Lady of the Lake, vocal talent probably wasn’t the strongest element of the show, but in all honesty, it really didn’t make too much of a difference. The lyrics were witty, the songs catchy, the choreography fun and it was just so easy to have a good time.
Marty Alix executed his role as the cowardly Sir Robin with ease and his over-the-top flamboyancy of the character brought new depth to lines of dialogue that could otherwise have been a bit bland. The will-they-won’t-they (they definitely will) stage romance between King Arthur (Cramer Cain) and The Lady of the Lake (Lane) lead to some beautifully quippy song and dance routines and both actors held strong performances throughout.
It is quite difficult to find anything to really critique from tonight’s performance as Abe Mitchell (Sir Lancelot), Jane Watt (Sir Bedevere) and Blake Appelqvist (Sir Galahad) also had strong performances. King Arthur and his four knights of the very, very round table all gelled well on stage and you could see them working off each other’s energy.
While she wasn’t a lead character, or even a character at all for that matter, Assistant Stage Manager Bronte Macinnes (playing herself) was a surprising crowd favourite. In their fourth-wall breaking style, Bronte was involved in a number of different scenes; be it steering the Coles Ship, dragging dead bodies from the stage, or acting as a scene change, her role always attracted a hearty giggle.
And of course, who could forget Rob Johnson, (Prince Herbert and a range of other roles) or Amy Hack as Patsy. While being slightly smaller parts of the show, either in stage time or spoken dialogue, both Hack and Johnson brought a wealth of comic energy to the stage and amplified the slapstick humour to new heights.
With over 400km of driving, an early start and an all-round pretty stressful day at work, I wasn’t exactly in a great state of mind walking into the show. So the fact that my attention was held for the full two-and-a-half-hour production is a testament to the cast and director Richard Carroll for putting on a show that was engaging, light-hearted and all round enjoyable; they made it impossible to not have a good time. So whether you are young or old, have heard of Monty Python or haven’t, love leaving the house, or are currently building a fortress out of toilet paper and hand sanitiser at home, Spamalot by One Eyed Man Productions is a show not to be missed.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.