Not everything from the 1970s has aged well and there’s a case that Monty Python’s surreal Oxbridge humour is showing particular signs of wear.
When last did someone uncork a joke about the Spanish Inquisition or reference the Ministry of Silly Walks? It’s been a while.
That wasn’t the case when Spamalot, Eric Idle’s valentine to the Monthy Python and the Holy Grail film, debuted on Broadway in 2005 to uproariously positive reviews.
More than a decade later, with comedy having moved on, is there, however, a danger of this barkingly bonkers tale of castles, kings and round tables in coming across a little square?
Spamalot transposes the 1975 movie more or less faithfully to stage.
Some scenes — the “bring your yer dead” sketch, Arthur’s face-off with the rude French soldiers — are, for instance, reprised beat for beat.
But, in a concession to the staging, there are big musical numbers too — including the self-referential ‘The Song That Goes Like This’, belted out with a wink and a grin by the Lady of the Lake (Sarah Harlington).
As Arthur Bob Harms communicates the correct blend of stupidity and overweening vanity, though, he is pushed hard in the idiot stakes by the nitwit triple treat of Sir Lancelot
(Jonathan Tweedie), Sir Bedevere (Marc Akinfolarin) and once and future socialist-anarchist Sir Galahad (Norton James).
For Python diehards it will have felt like the best sort of karaoke, an effect heightened by impressive production.
The biggest surprise is straight from regional panto as coconut-clopping manservant Patsy (Fergal D’Arcy) and the knights plunge into the front row for a bit of derring -do and audience interaction.
More of that spontaneity might would have gone down well.
As it is, Spamlaot will have to settle for being a glorious, giddy homage.
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