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A load of old Python?
Monty Python's Spamalot
Member Name: GuruOnAMountain
Monty Python's Spamalot
Advantages: Was funny, particularly if you're unfamiliar with Holy Grail.
Disadvantages: Tickets were expensive and a lot of the jokes were repeated.
My dad introduced me to the joys of Monty Python at a tender young age and I've been a fan ever since with Monty Python's Holy Grail and a Life of Brian taking pride of place in my DVD collection. I'd heard of Spamalot but had been a bit unsure of it. My family are a bit cheesy (a bit like the Scottish version of the Brady bunch) and we love musicals, so it wasn't the idea of a Monty Python musical that put me off. I did worry, however, that you can't really improve on Python and anything trying to represent it on stage would just be a pale imitation. This year, though, I was struggling for an idea of what to get for my dad's birthday present and reluctantly decided that perhaps Spamalot was the only idea I could come up with.
Spamalot is a musical based on Monty Python created by Eric Idle and with the music written by John Du Prez. Obviously, the original Monty Python crew do not feature (apart from Eric Idle in a video appearance as God). It was the winner of the Best Musical Tony Award in 2005.
We went to see it on tour at The King's Theatre, Glasgow and I thought the tickets were pretty pricey. It cost £35 for an ordinary ticket in the stalls (but not at the front of the stalls....fairly near the back). As I'm a student, I got my ticket for £14.50 and to be honest, I'm not sure I'd have bought the tickets if I'd had to pay full price for both of them as £70 for two tickets would be a bit too dear, I felt. I go to the theatre quite a lot and go to see allsorts from orchestras to operas to musicals and when I go to see opera, I pay £35 for front row stalls tickets and I think this is a reasonable amount to pay considering a full orchestra needs to be paid as well as a large and very skilled cast (not to mention the behind the scene folks and the set costs). Whereas, for Spamalot the cast is relatively small with only a few dancers and the musicians, also, are limited (you can see them at points) and I think there were only 3 or 4 musicians. To me, I don't think the value for money is high then for a £35 ticket for Spamalot as compared to the same price for an opera ticket.
I'm going to try and avoid giving spoilers here as much as possible. The first act was a bit of a disappointment, to be totally honest. The show started and was very garish and pantomime-esque and most of the jokes were lifted straight out of Holy Grail word for word. Don't get me wrong, the tagline for the advert for the show did state that it was "lovingly ripped off" but I thought this meant that the general plot-line of Holy Grail would be followed and some of the famous Monty Python songs such as We're Knights of the Round Table would appear but I thought there would be more attempt to mix it up a bit by using new jokes. After all, humour is found in the unexpected and the element of surprise was very much lacking. I felt a bit like I could have went home and put on a Holy Grail DVD instead of watching an expensive show.
I ate my ice cream feeling a bit down in the dumps. Had I wasted my hard-earned cash on a substandard show. Perhaps I had. The rest of the audience seemed to be lapping things up, though, roaring with laughter at the old, recycled jokes. I began to wonder if I was the only member of the audience who had actually seen Holy Grail (which may well have been the case since the average age of the audience looked to be about 16).
The second half, however, was a different kettle of fish. There was again a lot of material lifted straight out the movie but also a lot more original stuff that raised a chortle (from me included). I definately was more impressed as the second act got underway and I was singing along with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life at the end along with everyone else.
So is it worth it?
Monty Python was so much about the Monty Python crew that watching non-Monty Pythoners on stage does seem to be a bit sterile and I'm not sure it transfers totally well, particularly when they recycle old jokes that Monty Python did so well the first time round and they definately can't be improved. The new material is hilarious, however, when it does pop up and is totally in the old Monty Python spirit and doesn't suffer from a comparison with the original in the same way.
The price, as I say, is pretty high for a ticket at The King's, at least and I'm not sure that it is worth the ticket price. I am a student, though, and on a tight budget. I think if you've never seen Holy Grail before, you'll be rolling in the aisles the whole way through but if you have seen it (and seen it many times, like myself) you might be better saving your money and sitting in with the Holy Grail DVD again.
Summary: A musical based on Monty Python's Holy Grail.
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