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Stop it! Stop it, it's silly!
Monty Python's Spamalot
Member Name: DancingCopper
Monty Python's Spamalot
Date: 04/11/08, updated on 04/11/08 (406 review reads)
Advantages: You will laugh a lot
Disadvantages: There is a 0.01% chance you'll hate it; you might laugh so much you rupture something
Except it's not. Spamalot is much more than a collection of in-jokes for the Python aficionado to enjoy. It is a superb tribute to the Pythons themselves and to the farce and pretentiousness of modern musical theatre. It has been playing at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue since 2006, but seems to have been there much longer. Indeed, a West End without Spamalot would be a sadder place - some of these musicals are SO serious!
The play, as the film, is losely based on the legends of King Arthur and the knights of his round table, in particular Sirs Robin, Lancelot and Galahad. We follow their quests to find the Holy Grail, fighting the fierce, resisting temptation, and knitting their brows at the very, very silly. Epic films with plots centred on history or legend were cleverly parodied. Television itself was mocked mercilessly. The first time you watch the film end, you sit for a few seconds confused and slightly bewildered - the way you would if slapped with a fish.
Fish-slapping brings us neatly to the stage show. As the curtain rises to the sound of 'Finland, Finland, Finland', you know this is going to cover more of the Python repertoire than just the Holy Grail. The characters on stage seem as confused as the audience. This collusion between actors and audience is the foundation of many of the best shows in the West End.
The film was not a musical, having only one song in it. The stage play is peppered with some of Monty Python's classics. Eric Idle, who was the Python who created the stage play, did not simply leave the show like that. He created a range of numbers with excellent music and witty lyrics. These are sometimes based on single lines from the film, 'He is not dead yet', or satirical swipes at Theatre, 'You won't succeed on Broadway'.
Another significant addition is the part of The Lady of the Lake. Carol Cleveland, frequently used as Pythonesque eye-candy, once remarked that the boys wrote the best female parts for themselves. It is pleasing, therefore, that Idle has created a superb female lead for the stage play. She is perhaps the most important character at facilitating interaction between Arthur and his knights. She also has some of the best, and most difficult shows. In some superb meta-theatre, she reappears throughout the show singing a love song about singing a love song. She also sings the wonderfully disgruntled 'Diva's Lament'. Some people dislike this character as distracting, irritating and pointless but, come on people, THAT is what Monty Python is all about!
The plotlines of Robin, Galahad and Lancelot are expanded and adapted. This creates more interesting, complex characters. You might like this, you might not. Personally, I enjoyed what had been done with the characters. All their key scenes from the film are still there, they have just been expanded. Where there are episodes that are important, but difficult to translate from film to stage, they have been imaginatively covered with technology or just made even sillier.
In recent years, there have been three shows where I've been left nearly hyperventilating because they are so funny: The Producers, The Drowsy Chaparone and Spamalot. I do know one person who doesn't like it, but I know many, many more who do.
ORDER ONLINE: www.montypythonsspamalot.com/spamalot_tickets_lond on.php#
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London, W1D 8AY
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Friday at 5:15 pm and 8:30 pm
Saturday at 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm
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The Palace Theatre is on Cambridge Circus at the junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road.
Underground: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road Stops
Bus: 14, 19, 24, 29, 38, & 176
Blood Brothers - Spamalot
To get from the Phoenix Theatre to the Palace Theatre takes 12 minutes by bus, and 3 minutes to walk!
Summary: The immortal film reincarnated as a stage musical
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