New Victoria Theatre, Woking – until 18 November 2017
Based on Monty Python’s 1975 film, this musical captures the spirit of the original material – but also shows just how dated some of the humour is. Adapted from the original Monthy Python and the Holy Grail film that is considered to be one of the best Monty Python films, Spamalot really captures the spirit of the original film and the sheer madness of the plot and humour that goes down a treat with audiences.
Filled with a bunch of wacky characters (as well as a killer rabbit), Spamalot sees King Arthur and his knights of the round table embarking on a quest to recover the Holy Grail – with a number of obstacles along the way.
Daniel Buckroyd’s production is suitably pacy and energetic that it is easy to get swept away on this increasingly bizarre quest, helped by an enthusiastic cast who really embrace every bit of silliness that is thrown at them.
Of course being a show based on Monty Python’s unique brand of humour, the audience knows exactly what to expect when they go in – an invisible horse being brought to life with coconut sound effects provided by King Arthur’s loyal servant Patsy, a ridiculous fight between King Arthur and a random knight who continues to fight despite losing his arms are just a couple of examples that really work and make the audience laugh.
However, the trouble is that sometimes the comedy gets a little bit over the top and ridiculous that it can come across as though it is trying too hard. This is particularly evident in certain songs written by Eric Idle, such as ‘Fisch Sclapping Dance’ or ‘You Won;t Succeed in Showbiz’ for example. Funny songs – but ones that don’t quite fit into the story or have any sense of purpose.
Yet, despite this it is clear that designer Sara Perks and choreographer Ashley Nottingham have had a lot of fun in bringing the musical to life. Sara Perks has created a set that provides an excellent backdrop to the story and props that adds humour delightfully. Meanwhile, Ashley Nottingham’s choreography really embraces the energy of the production as well as the silliness of the lyrics.
While the characters are over the top, there are some performances from the cast that have great comedy timing, not least Rhys Owen’s Patsy – faithful, loyal and easy to root for and is a great foil to Bob Harms as King Arthur as their duet ‘I’m all Alone’ proves. Elsewhere, Sarah Harlington as Lady of Lake is superb vocally, while perfectly capturing her character’s diva like personality and Bob Harms as King Arthur while more sensible than the other characters still has a sense of ridiculousness about him that is enjoyable to watch.
Overall, if you are a Monty Python fan you will enjoy this bonkers adventure that never ceases in trying to make you laugh, but occasionally its humour can become a little bit tiresome and repetitive.