Book, Lyrics and Music: Eric Idle
Composer: John Du Prez
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Jo Payne
Looking on the bright side? This show will help you do that and more through a huge variety of music, jokes and characters. Jam-packed with the silliness which one expects from the Monty Python clan, Spamalot contains plenty of boobs, bums and toilet-related humour set against the backdrop of England (not Finland) in the dark ages. Although supposedly a loose re-telling of the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the production is also a twee, pun-tastic look at the classic musical and what one expects from such a show.
The talented cast takes the audience through various cultural stereotypes, facial expressions, mouthed words and side notes to ensure that every second of the show leads to laugh-out-loud moments. During the show, there are hints from the Holy Grail movie plus added extras to enhance the impact on the stage. Michael Palin appears as God to give guidance and Jamie Tyler (French Taunter) makes for a superbly annoying Frenchman. However, the funniest moments in the show come from Joe Pasquale (King Arthur) and his ad-libbed comments which leave his fellow actors struggling to hold it together, let alone the audience!
Pasquale’s casual take on the King of Camelot means he is a believable and lovable character who is easy to care for and believe. Todd Carty (Patsy) makes a fantastic side-kick for King Arthur and his relationship with Pasquale off stage make them a brilliant duo to keep the audience on their toes. The adaptable script allows for Brighton to take centre stage in act two, which, due to the city’s reputation, only serves to enhance the hilarity which ensues. The script, characters and set help to create the castle and forest where most of the action takes place. Costumes, props and other movable set pieces add to the humour of the well-written lines which are delivered with perfect timing and expression.
In a show with such a strong comedy script, it’s refreshing to hear music of an equal quality; in words, lyrics and delivery. Eric Idle, the most musical Python, has created a superb selection of songs which are funny both in their composition and performance. Sarah Earnshaw (The Lady of the Lake) is the powerhouse vocalist with perfect comedic timing who uses the range and textures of her voice to brilliantly deliver Find Your Grail, a song that would be at home in any feel-good musical, and The Song That Goes Like This which is a tongue-in-cheek look at the romantic numbers in shows. Another musical highlight is You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz which has been written to adapt to current entertainment news stories. This most recent re-write contains Mary Berry, Ozzy Osbourne and the Obamas, all of whom also make an appearance, of some sort, in the show!
As the show comes to an end, in only the way a musical should, with happy endings plus some surprises for certain audience members, one feels the positivity and humour at the heart of the show. Singing along to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, swaying and whistling during the finale feels like much more than just a show, like you’re a part of something bigger; a movement to keep Britain laughing and not take itself so seriously.
Runs until Saturday 4th April 2015