Guest Reviewer: karen Clough
Upstaged Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Eric Idle’s stage adaptation of the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ offers all the satire, ridiculousness, mockery and hilarity you might bargain for, and then some.
Whether you’re an existing fan of Monty Python or not, this show makes for a laugh-out-loud night of ingeniously perceptive slapstick entertainment. Eric Idle has captured the essence of Monty Python in this superbly constructed musical version, demonstrating the most natural understanding of what really does make people laugh. First appearing on stage in 2004, Spamalot stands the test of time by combining classic comedy with currently themed script tweaks, which connect it with the present.
Spamalot is the calamitous tale of King Arthur (Bob Harm) and his incompetent knights (Steven Arden, Jonathan Tweedie, Norton James, Marc Akinfolarin) in their search for the Holy Grail. Struggling to command the respect of his subjects as a credible king, Arthur recruits the knights of the round table on his travels, each of them possessing a unique ineptness and comedic appeal.
Fans of Monty Python and the newly-acquainted alike will appreciate the embedded fun-poking at the ‘terribly Britishness’ of it all, the coconut shell horses, the set, props and the genre of musical theatre itself. All of this is accompanied by an equally amusing song list (John du Prez & Eric Idle) including the quintessential Monty Python anthem ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ (music directed by Dean McDermott).
This production is not just intelligently written (Eric Idle), it is slickly directed (Daniel Buckroyd), choreographed (Ashley Nottingham) and designed (Sara Perks) – it’s as good as musical comedy pandemonium gets. This is enabled by outstanding casting, their chemistry and a shared sense of fun literally radiating from the stage. The performances of each are of such a high and comparable standard that favouritism proves a struggle. Whilst there is too much brilliance to justly mention, I doubt the comic-timing of Bob Harms’ (King Arthur) imaginary horse-handling paired with Rhys Owen’s (Patsy) command of coconut shell hooves could be bettered! Vocal performances are also of great quality across the cast, with Sarah Harlington as the divaesque Lady of the Lake leading the way.
Prepare for audience interaction, high jinks, ad-lib, more irony than you can shake a stick at and a revolving door of laughter and thoroughly enjoyable idiocy.
I agree with John Cleese, it really is “the silliest thing I’ve ever seen”. It’s also ridiculously brilliant. I left the show with a warmed, laughter-aching face, I’m smiling as I write this review. Don’t let this humour masterpiece pass you by.
Spamalot runs at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 11th November 2017.