Based on King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and with the humour of Monty Python, Spamalot is a timeless fun musical that will have you smiling from start to finish.
Anyone who goes along to watch the show should ideally like the style of humour produced by Monty Python which is at times silliness to the extreme. Or maybe just be willing to let yourself be entertained in a very light-hearted way.
Spamalot is “the hit musical lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, which was a 1975 British film written and performed by the comedy group Monty Python which consisted of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.
What has made Monty Python (and the film) such a success is not only the comedy scripts, but also the humour expressed by each individual AND the dynamics of the group.
Spamalot has many of the funniest bits from the film and adaptations made especially for the musical. Add to that topical jokes, and of course references to DCI Banks, and you have something special.
There is no doubt that the current cast add the final ingredient to make this a successful show, with Stephen Tompkinson leading the cast (and the quest) admirably as King Arthur, showing not only his command of the stage but also revealing his comedic talent. I will not look at DCI Banks in the same light ever again!
Anna-Jane Casey is simply brilliant as The Lady of the Lake as she has the ability to sing humorous songs while also making the audience aware that she has a stunning and powerful voice. She says of her role: “The Lady is an amalgam of all the divas you have ever known like Minnelli/Streisand/Bassey and is a mystical figure who gave King Arthur his sword “Excalibur” (the only sword with its own name!!) she helps the knights and especially King Arthur, on his quest to find the Holy Grail.”
‘The Song That Goes Like This’ (Sir Galahad – Jon Robyns and The Lady of The Lake – Casey) is particularly funny. Casey’s Second Act rendition of ‘The Diva’s Lament’ is also superb.
King Arthur’s ‘solo’ (alongside Patsy and the Full Company) ‘I’m All Alone’ is sublime comedy, while ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’ by Patsy, King Arthur and the ensemble is memorable.
Patsy is played masterfully by Michael Burgen and his use of coconuts is second to none. Whether cantering or trotting, Patsy is at King Arthur’s side… The humour has to be seen to be believed.
The Knights of The Very Round Table are all brilliant, with solid performances from Robin Armstrong (Sir Bedevere, Mrs Galahad, Concorde and Guard), Rob Delaney (Sir Robin, Mayor and Guard), Adam Ellis (Prince Herbert, Historian, Not Dead Fred, Minstrel), Graham MacDuff (Sir Lancelot, French Taunter, Knight of Ni, Tim The Enchanter) and Jon Robyns (Sir Dennis Galahad, Black Knight, Prince Herbert’s Father).
Ably supporting the leading cast is a very strong ensemble and swings with Chris Jenkins, Rachel Knowles, Hannah Malekzad, James Nelson, Amelia Adams-Pearce, Graham Newell and James Nelson all deserving credit.
Making the quest for The Hole Grail run musically smoothly is conductor Gareth Weedon and the orchestra, and jolly good they are too!
Concluding those taking part in the musical were a dangerous rabbit, a flying cow, herring and some French people.
Suffice it to say that the musical is great fun and if you go to see it you will leave with a smile on your face, and that is one very good reason to get along to see Spamalot!
Given the choice of watching the musical or the film, and I don’t mean to offend Python fans, I would rather see the musical – it is uplifting and a fabulous evening’s entertainment.
Review by Neil Cheesman who you can follow on Twitter @LondonTheatre1
Thursday 13th December 2012