Book &Lyrics: Eric Idle
Music: John Du Prez
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Claire Going
‘And now! At Last! Another musical completely different from some of the other musicals which aren’t quite the same as this one is…’ Spamalot is the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Mixing the Pythons’ legendary irreverent humour with the musical talents of John Du Prez and the lyrical genius of Eric Idle, this prancing Arthurian parody is sure to delight both diehard Python fans and anyone who is not a dead parrot. The show not only parodies the legend of King Arthur, and contains all the unforgettable lines from the original movie, from which the show has been ‘lovingly ripped off’, but it also cleverly pokes fun at the theatre musical genre. Eric Idle, who has written the stage adaptation, has given the Lady of the Lake a much more starring rôle, singing lines such as Whatever happened to my part? and ‘I’ve been offstage for far too long, it’s ages since I had a song.’ Sarah Earnshaw, as the ‘watery tart’, is a remarkably talented comic diva and completely steals the show on a number of occasions, sometimes just with her marvellous facial expressions.
The number that hilariously mocks the Lloyd Webber school of romantic songwriting, The Song That Goes Like This, is performed by Earnshaw and Richard Meek (Sir Dennis Galahad) like they have channelled Brightman and Ball through the medium of Palin, and the excellent line ‘I’ll sing it in your face, while we both embrace’ is testament to Idle’s poetic brilliance.
The big name in the show is Joe Pasquale, and he does not disappoint as the hapless King Arthur. It is hard to tell if the spontaneous corpsing and asides to the audience are scripted or not, mainly because they are so expertly delivered, and the song where he sings I’m All Alone with his heavily laden little manservant Patsy by his side, waving his arms to signal his presence and singing ‘except for me; is simply superb. Joe Tracini’s Patsy, banging his coconut halves to simulate Arthur’s horse’s hooves, is like a cute synthesis of Baldrick and Rick Moranis with all their comic talent and more. His onstage presence, despite being the smallest of the cast, is immense, and he is definitely a name to remember.
Christopher Luscombe has done an excellent job in reviving this touring production. It is faultless from entertaining start to hilarious finish. The ensemble cast, with some unbelievably speedy costume changes, really gives the show the Python spirit, with cast members morphing swiftly from one part to the next. Josh Wilmot is especially Pythonesque as the cantankerous old Mrs Galahad and the ‘not dead yet’ Concorde; and the French guards who use their flatulence as a weapon against the ‘silly English kniggits’ are raspberry-blowing comedy theatre at its best.
Whether you are a Python devotee or just a fan of laughing, you will have a fantastic night out at Spamalot. Though God features in it, played suitably irreverently by Hugh Bonneville, we must remember it’s not the Messiah, it’s just a very naughty show.
Runs until: 20th June on tour