Writer: Eric Idle
Director: Christopher Luscome
Choreographer: Jenny Arnold
Reviewer: Fraser MacDonald
The brainchild of the Monty Python lads Spamalot arrives at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week. With a few famous faces, catchy tunes and a side splitting script, the showis sure to leave a lasting impression on all those who see it.
Telling the story – eh, sort of – of King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail (“lovingly” ripped off from the Python’s hit film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Spamalot takes the audience on a zany adventure.
The script itself is nothing short of comedy gold. In keeping all the classic elements of the film – the Knights Who Say Ni, killer rabbits, the Dark Knight among many notable others – the production really hits the mark for hardcore Python fans, as well as introducing a whole new level of comedy to an audience with no prior knowledge of the Pythons. The show could almost guarantee tears of laughter in its stupidity, wacky songs and incredibly loveable characters. There are little places for current references, which modernises the piece and sets it apart form dated comedies like Avenue Q, giving the impression the audience of the day are witnessing the premiere of a musical phenomenon. This is, of course, all performed impressively by a faultless cast.
Leading the cast is Joe Pasquale as King Arthur, ably assisted by his trusty peasant Patsy (Todd Carty). Pasquale is utterly loveable in the rôle, playing it with all the tongue in cheek humour it requires. His background in stand up stands him in good stead for ad libs with an excited audience, resulting in all the more hilarity. Arguably stealing the show with no more than a few lines, however, is Carty who’s facial expressions send the audience into a gaggle of uncontrollable laughter. Will Hawksworth is utterly side splitting as Sir Robin and the ensemble are each incredibly talents of their own. A mention must be given to the incredible talents of Sarah Earnshaw, The Lady of the Lake, whose vocal range is as impressive as her perfect comic timing in the delivery of lines – simply incredible.
The score itself is somewhat a comedic masterpiece. From the loveable “He’s Not Dead Yet” to the classic “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”, there is a joy which exudes from each note that few other shows can achieve. Arrangements allow for heavenly harmonies but also poke fun at the traditional Broadway musical in the way only Eric Idle can.
The set is bright and vibrant and is used incredibly effectively. Levels are used well to ensure the drama is not flat, and in the genius staging of the piece, the set itself brings a humour of its own. Costumes are lifted straight from the film, each one bringing an extra dimension to the production – with a few surprises thrown in as well. Dance routines are slick and well polished and the sound is well balanced with the exception of a few cases when the cast are a little drowned out by the swell of the score. The live band, appearing on stage at regular intervals, are incredibly skilled and bring the score to life, adding an extra energy to the piece. In short, there is nothing that can be faulted.
Spamalot is non stop entertainment. It makes the difficult task of making an audience smile constantly for two hours look easy and for that alone it deserves all the praise it can be given. This show will certainly not leave an audience disappointed – miss it at your peril!
Runs until 21 March