The current UK tour of the Monty Python musical Spamalot features well loved, classic material and is based around the film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It originally opened on Broadway in 2005 and won numerous awards, including 3 Tony’s and a Grammy, and it has since had numerous productions, with this latest offering from Sell a Door touring across the UK and then going to South Korea.
It’s an inventive production with edits to the original script/lyrics from 2005. This production features the foot and hand of God descending from the ‘Heavens’, a tap dance on cans of Spam (what else?), the lyrics of ‘You can’t succeed in…’ have been changed from Jews to stars and with this comes a whole host of other references throughout the show to popular culture e.g Harry Potter and Simon Cowell to name a couple. I also particularly enjoyed the appearance of the rest of the cast (and stage crew) during All Alone and that they stepped out of character for this song which worked wonderfully.
The comedy of the show was executed very well by a wonderful cast with great comedic timing who perfect the jokes in the show that exemplify the British sense of humour to a tee. I particularly enjoyed Bob Harms who led the cast as King Arthur and Sarah Harlington as Lady of the Lake whose lament, Whatever Happened to My Part, a song about an actress who is devastated that not more has been made of her role, was one of the highlights of the show for me personally.
I love that the show makes fun of musicals whilst itself being a musical, it makes the show all the more fun and this was definitely shown in ‘The Song That Goes Like This’ which was performed by Sarah Harlington and Norton James as Sir Galahad. It is a wonderfully over dramatic song that makes a dig out of the ‘paint by numbers’ approach that sometimes appears in musical theatre and these two performed it wonderfully with the best amount of melodrama throughout.
The setting and staging is deliberately like that of a pantomime (as much of the musical does have a pantomime type style), with hand painted trees and a small castle that moves around the stage for different scenes. The audience were incredibly enthusiastic and were clapping and laughing along the whole way through which kept the momentum up throughout the performance. At it’s heart, it is fundamentally a feel good musical and I cannot disagree with that at all, from the jokes about a plague corpse being ‘not dead yet’ to the medieval peasants who tell King Arthur that they are an ‘autonomous collective’ to the Black Knight who continues to come back and fight after losing all of his limbs and subsequently, his head.
It was a really fun, feel good performance and, although the genius of Monty Python is difficult to recreate, it was done very well in a production that made the entire audience laugh throughout and I for one, left the theatre very happily singing along to ‘I’m not Dead Yet’.