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Should be renamed Laughalot!
Monty Python's Spamalot
Member Name: bamamo
Monty Python's Spamalot
Advantages: Funny, true to the film, great cast!
Disadvantages: Tickets aren't the cheapest, as with any West End show.
I have just got back from a weekend in London where I was fortunate enough to see Spamalot, which opened in 2006 at the Palace Theatre in the West End, and will run there until January 2009 when it begins a tour of the country. Spamalot has been so successful that it is also running on Broadway and in Las Vegas, as well as having had a sold-out stint in Chicago.
The musical is "lovingly ripped off" as they put it from the film 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. A lot of it is really very similar and in fact some whole scenes of the stage version are worded exactly as they are in the film.
Since June 2008 the part of King Arthur has been played by Sanjeev Bhaskar. I will admit that I was not a fan of his before seeing the show - I tend to find him a little smarmy - but he did a stellar job, and was barely recognisable even from my very good seat! I was extremely impressed with his performance, and he did slip some amusing little references to India in which went down well with the crowd.
For those of you who have never seen the film (shame on you!) here is a brief outline of what it's about. King Arthur (Bhaskar) has been given his mighty sword Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake, sets about to find a gang of brave and noble knights. He in fact ends up with Sir Galahad (Michael Xavier), Sir Lancelot (Jake Nightingale - Dalziel and Pascoe, Casualty, Oliver Twist, Doctors), Sir Robin (Ross Dawes) and Sir Bedevere (Adam Stafford). He is accompanied on his journey by his nice but dim sidekick Patsy (Andrew Spillet, who looks uncannily like Lee Evans whilst in costume), who follows him round with a pair of coconut shells making a clip-clop sound as he doesn't have a horse.
On their way to Camelot (which is made to look like Vegas), the Knights of the Round Table are contacted by God, voiced by John Cleese, who informs them they must find the Holy Grail. So off they set on their journey to find it, encountering killer rabbits, the very persistent Black Knight who wont give up even when he's lost his arms and legs, and a whole host of bizarre events including meeting the Knights Who Say Ni, who wont let them pass until they bring them "a shrubbery".
I'm not usually one for musicals, but this is tongue-in-cheek as they come and was really, truly hilarious. The cast all played their parts exceptionally, and songs included such classics as "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
Python fans will be glad to hear that essential moments in the film, such as the "I fart in your general direction" speech are kept in.
One word of warning, though - if you are seated in seat B1, C1 or D1, be prepared to get on stage and look silly. In the performance I went to, the person who got up on stage actually didn't even have to do anything ridiculous other than state their name when asked - which was Hans Puterschmidt or something equally funny - which had the crowd and cast falling about.
The only parts of the show I wished I could have skipped past were the parts with the Lady in the Lake, she was quite irritating although clearly supposed to be and still did a good job at her part, even if it wasn't my favourite character. At times she played up at being a pain by imitating Cher, etc when she was singing.
Overall it was a really entertaining night and I fully intend to catch the show at least once more once it begins touring next year. Tickets run from £10 supposedly online, although the theatre is set out such as you would really not be able to see a thing and get a nosebleed for your troubles. We had really good seats but these cost, I believe, as I wasn't paying, around £60 each.
Summary: A must-see for Python fans or anyone who likes a bit of comedy silliness.
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