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Spamalot – New Theatre, Oxford

Director: Christopher Luscombe

Book and lyrics: Eric Idle

Music: John Du Prez

Reviewer: Bethaney Rimmer

All of the random silliness and slapstick antics you’d expect from a hit musical “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is present and correct in Spamalot. This current touring production opened in January this year and stars Joe Pasquale as King Arthur and Todd Carty as his sidekick, Patsy. The show is reliant on a specific type of humour that may be thoroughly enjoyable for some, especially fans of the original pythons, but could well be seen as a little immature and dated to others. Either way, it’s an evening of harmless and politically incorrect fun.

Hugh Durrant’s story book set design is a fitting backdrop for these eccentric characters to ride their pretend horses (with coconuts for hooves) and run away from farting Frenchmen, among other adventures. The quest begins with King Arthur’s search for his knights of the round table and a merry band of dashing daredevils he does find, including Sir Robin (Will Hawksworth), Sir Dennis Galahad (Richard Meek), Sir Lancelot (Jamie Tyler), and Sir Bedevere (Josh Wilmott). They are then bequeathed with the task of finding the Holy Grail and in the process they burst into some wonderful show tunes such as; The Song That Goes Like This, as well as chirpy ditties such as Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Spamalot takes a couple of scenes to really get going and capture the audience’s full attention. The pivotal moment when you really feel like the show takes off is the performance of the cleverly written The Song That Goes Like This sung by the wavy haired Sir Dennis Galahad and The Lady of the Lake (Sarah Earnshaw), who both perform marvellously as they mock the stereotypical love song that features in most musicals. Earnshaw has a show stopping voice and during the second act when her character laments how her stage presence is lacking compared to the first half, you can’t help but think that she has a very good point.

All of the knights are suitably cheesy, gung-ho, and debonair with strong vocals to match; they unashamedly throw themselves into their medieval characters and they are not afraid to be ridiculous if it means they get a laugh which, for the most part, they do. While Pasquale does not have the best singing voice, he and Carty are easy to warm to and work well together as the comedy duo, driving the story forward with their banter and occasionally breaking the fourth wall to get an extra chuckle every now and again.

The ensemble and the knights switch between numerous wacky characters and, while they only have short moments to shine, they certainly make an impact. There are moments of sharp and witty genius in the script, but there are also a couple of jokes that fall a bit flat.

The group musical numbers are the most enjoyable, and the topical You Won’t Succeed In Showbiz is a particular comical highlight. Even if the humour isn’t to your taste, you’ll find it difficult not to smile and sway along to Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, a song with a simple concept yet it’s so relevant and uplifting. If you find yourself not having quite as good a time as you were hoping, this song, and in fact this show, serves as a reminder that you need to enjoy life, look for the good wherever you can, and just take a moment to laugh, smile, dance, and sing.

Runs until Saturday 14 February and on tour

Director: Christopher Luscombe Book and lyrics: Eric Idle Music: John Du Prez Reviewer: Bethaney Rimmer All of the random silliness and slapstick antics you’d expect from a hit musical “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ is present and correct in Spamalot. This current touring production opened in January this year and stars Joe Pasquale as King Arthur and Todd Carty as his sidekick, Patsy. The show is reliant on a specific type of humour that may be thoroughly enjoyable for some, especially fans of the original pythons, but could well be seen as a little immature…

Review Overview

The Public Reviews Score

Harmless Fun!

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The Reviews Hub - Central
The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.