August 30 2014 Latest news:
Friday, August 3, 2012
Now is the time to confess I’ve never been a fan of Monty Python. It just seemed a bit overrated, dated and elitist to me.
But when the chance came up to see the musical Spamalot in the West End, I thought: why not? And I’m glad I did.
As the sign outside the Harold Pinter Theatre and on the programme proudly declares, it’s “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
It tells the story of King Arthur and his (rather camp) knights on their search for the, er, Holy Grail. On the way, they encounter comedy knights and peasants, men in drag, a giant rabbit, a killer rabbit, a huge cuddly toy and Bonnie Langford as the Lady of the Lake belting out showtunes in the style of Cleo Laine or Bette Midler.
It’s essentially panto for adults – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just as with panto it’s extremely topical and bang up to date.
God – a video recording of original Python Eric Idle, who wrote the script and lyrics –tasks King Arthur (Marcus Brigstocke alternating with Jon Culshaw) with putting on a West End show.
An excellent Brigstocke on the (k)night we went declared he wanted “nothing special. Can you get me Kenneth Branagh, 800 nurses and Danny Boyle?”
Then, later, he asked trusty sidekick Patsy (a rubber-faced Todd Carty): “Did we hear back from Sebastian Coe?”
“Pity. We could have showed him how to fill every seat.”
And, just as with panto, there’s audience participation, including, without giving too much away, the location of the Holy Grail and a final singalong of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
Maybe I’m a little converted.
Spamalot is at the Harold Pinter Theatre until September 9.