4 / 5
If anyone is anyone from the ages of 20 and above, it is unlikely that you did not grow up with Monty Python and their slapstick, intelligent humour. Despite the Python’s Holy Grail making its debut on our screens in 1975, their comedy and genius sketches have become not only legendary but with the ability to never age, becoming a deep part of British culture.
To bring something so acclaimed to the stage must be daunting, however with the input of Python’s own Eric Idle and original Holy Grail score writer, John DuPrez, what we see on television is brought to live performance with every bit of silliness and pizzazz as the original.
The performers themselves took on every character with perfect recognition of the originals, to uncanny resemblances of John Cleese in King Arthur particularly, making us feel as if the Python’s were really in the room. To bring such simple comedic tricks that often are hidden on television, the performers perfection in timing and perfectly rehearsed actions and movements, made us see a performance that left little to critique in what could be improved upon.
Fun was poked at the status that the performance found itself in – as a live musical number with little to hide in special effects. Songs were created about how romantic songs lead to a kiss or how an actress had been off stage for too long and her annoyance at this. Special effects weren’t trying to be hidden and clever, but became satirical and obvious, creating humour in not only our views of musical theatre but adding to the key approach that the Python’s take to comedy.
What really made this production special was the interaction with the audience. We were not left behind or made to watch but our knowledge engaged us in the action – singing along to well-known tunes, laughing uncontrollably at the same jokes that never get old, and cheers from the crowd at favourite character entrances and scenes from the original sketch. Even a slight moment of corpse-ing from the performers did not take away from the fun – personally I love a moment when performers slightly lose track. To me it makes them human but also shows how much they enjoy the performance themselves, and such as in this case, it never destroys the audience’s belief but creates more humour for them.
Spamalot is a well-constructed and brilliant production, bringing the 1970’s humour of the Python’s to new audiences but also revoking comedy for the older fans; modernising the production to fit current situations yet somehow keeping the original essence of The Holy Grail, this performance is a triumph.