Opening with the kind of musical build-up that grace productions of a certain age, ‘Spamalot’ signalled that it definitely isn’t that kind of musical. Billed as ‘(lovingly) ripped off from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, it references many moments from that film and other Python material during an evening’s worth of doing ‘silly things’.
An extremely potted (not to say potty) version of post-Roman history sets us up for a dip into Arthurian legend as radically revised by copious reference to material from the much-loved film and the Python oeuvre.
King Arthur (Joe Pasquale) is visited by a vision of the Lady of the Lake (Sarah Earnshaw) and prompted by her sets off on a quest to find the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail, assisted by his squire, Patsy (Todd Carty).
Cue Not Dead Fred (accidental plague victim), the Knights Who Say Ni (not to mention that shrubbery), and sufficient quotes from the Python past to considerably lengthen this review if fully cited.
Good-hearted silliness pervades and ultimately prevails amidst bucket loads of anarchic action that takes us from the lakeside via Camelot and France to ‘an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Unusually Extensive Forest’ – there’s a lot of forest in ‘Spamalot’, and on to a classic musical finale number.
The audience was with the company all the way, singing their way through ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ and rewarded with several references to the production’s current location.
The ethereal appearance of Michael Palin as God in no way detracts from this highly ensemble production where there may seem to be smaller parts but there are certainly no small actors.
As the days lengthen but the world seems no less dark, we are rightly urged to look on the bright side of life through the lens of this unrepentantly cheerful production.
Til 21 March, 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm)