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Reviewer Chris Gladstone attends the opening night of Spamalot at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury
April 9 to 14, 2012
By Chris Gladstone
Billed as the musical version of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and having won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005, Spamalot promised to be a wonderfully over-the-top extravaganza of silliness. It certainly didnt disappoint.
Starting with the hilarious Fisch Schlapping Song to put us in the mood, the play - by Eric Idle and John Du Prez - broadly sticks to the original film plot with most of the more memorable lines included. Steve Pacey played the role of King Arthur, scouring the land to find worthy knights to join him at his Round Table.
His noble and downtrodden steed, complete with coconuts, is played by Todd Carty as they venture across plague-ridden Britain to gather lusty Sir Lancelot, cowardly Sir Robin, virtuous Sir Galahad and brainy Sir Bedevere along the way. Bonnie Langford was in fine voice as the glamorous yet forlorn Lady of the Lake and Eric Idle makes a brief heavenly appearance as a slightly grumpy God.
Sent on a quest by God to find the Holy Grail, the troupe encounter familiar challenges such as the Black Knight, the killer rabbit and the Knights Who Say Ni, and find themselves arguing with smelly peasants and the wonderfully rude French taunters. The simple set was versatile and used imaginatively, sitting comfortably in the modern and impressive Waterside Theatre.
Singing and dancing their way through every scene, the show keeps the audience chuckling almost continuously. The musical numbers sometimes slip into wonderfully over-the-top send-ups of modern Hollywood songs which, even though they may make Python purists wince, succeed in evoking the original spirit of madcap silliness that brought the show heartily up to date.
The most flamboyant part of the show is the ending. Whereas the film version tended to fizzle out in a somewhat disappointing way, the last few scenes of the show round off the story in a much more fulfilling and entertaining way, with a couple of last-minute eye-opening surprises ending the spectacular in style.
An old favourite brought up to date, Spamalot attracted a large number of younger members of the audience, proving that the Pythons humour is still as fresh today as it ever was. Guaranteed to keep you chuckling from start to finish, it is enormous fun and a hugely enjoyable family evening out.
All in all, colourful, brash, fun, and very, very silly.