Venue: Grand Opera House York
Runs: 20-25 February 2012
Director: Christopher Luscombe
It’s a joy to see how the Monty Python legacy lives on in this musical, “lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 Holy Grail film which contains comic lines promising as much endurance in history as the Arthurian legend it parodies. Eric Idle’s show offers more than enough killer bunnies, fish slapping and theatrical French accents to satisfy any Python lover, but with an incredibly talented and dynamic cast this production is able to stand up as a piece of entertainment by itself – just about – and successfully incorporates the irresistible element of a musical.
With a slightly cringe inducing episode of audience involvement, gaudy costumes and the kind of set you’d typically find on the pantomime stage, it becomes an unspoken concern whilst sitting in the theatre that old jokes are wearing thin. Luckily, a fantastic cast injects the life into this performance to remind us that good, honest Python humour is Not Dead Yet (a quote from the film and lively number in the musical) and the fear is soon forgotten. Steven Pacey in the role of King Arthur gave a majestic and enjoyable performance accompanied by Bonnie Langford as The Lady of the Lake. Langford’s stage charisma enabled her to create a rare and personal relationship with the audience which gave something very special to the experience of watching the show. Todd Carty ‘on the coconuts’ played Patsy, Arthur’s sidekick, and provided much of the comic richness that oozed out of this production.
And only praise can be offered to the rest of the knightly crew with Robin Armstrong, Bob Delaney, Kit Orton and Jon Robyns making up Sir Bedevere, Sir Robin, Sir Lancelot and the dreamy Sir Galahad. An outrageous mix of fun poking at current figures such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Simon Cowell, amongst lines taken directly from the film itself (“are you suggesting coconuts migrate?”); gives Spamalot the up-to-date edge it needs without sacrificing the timeless humour that is adults acting silly. With a hearty rendition of the Python’s best loved tune (with lyrics for the audience to join in!) before the curtain fall, it really would be impossible not to walk away from the York Opera House looking on the bright side of life.