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Spamalot @ The Waterside Theatre Aylesbury

Published by: Vicky Poole on 11th Apr 2012 | View all blogs by Vicky Poole



Audiences all around the world have been roaring with laughter since Monty Python’s Spamalot won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2005, and this week we welcome it back to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre as it starts its 2012 UK tour, bringing with it a dazzling new cast whilst retaining all of its classic wit.

Described as being ‘lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, Spamalot is a (kind-of) new musical with a book by Eric Idle and an entirely new score, (well, almost) created by Eric Idle and John Du Prez. It tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and features a multitude of well-loved Monty Python gags and characters including head-banging monks, The Knights Who Say Ni, killer rabbits and French people with vastly over-exaggerated accents. The show also features some fantastic show tunes, including He Is Not Dead Yet, Knights of the Round Table, Find Your Grail and of course the Nation’s Favourite Comedy Song (Reader’s Digest Poll 2010) Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.  

After a short overture and prologue, the show opened with the very tongue-in-cheek ‘Fisch Schlapping Song’ which I think beautifully set the tone for the hilarity and ridiculousness that was about to ensue. It was obvious, even from this early point that the show was going to have something for everyone, whether you were a seasoned Monty Python fan or a first-time novice in their intrinsically British field of comedy. What followed was a plethora of quick-fire silliness, with the cast never making the audience wait for more than a maximum of 5 minutes for a musical number.

Like so much of Python’s past works, in writing Spamalot Eric Idle has obviously taken a very pragmatic approach to the idea of how absurd it really is to ask Monty Python to put on a musical. This attitude is blazing obvious throughout the show, with drily comic references to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Singing in the Rain, a homage to ‘the big musical company number’ in the form of the musical number Knights of the Round Table and a fleeting tribute to Morecombe and Wise. Even the beautifully and brightly coloured backdrop gets in on the act by depicting a Eurostar-esque train making its way through the picturesque Camelot landscape. Indeed, Eric Idle is written all over this musical and he even makes a pleasantly surprising and highly witty appearance in the show himself in the role of God, via the help of a television projection screen.

However, the speed and ease at which the hilarity of the show is delivered should not be taken for granted. The wealth of experience and skill of the cast was evident in the slick and expertly executed performances of a strong ensemble, consisting of only 13 members with many playing a handful of roles.

Steven Pacey, a seasoned stage and screen performer known to a TV audience for his roles in Wallander for ITV, Spooks and Murder in Mind for the BBC, plays King Arthur and his committed and grounded performance is matched and complimented beautifully by Todd Carty’s understated yet hysterical performance as King Arthur’s side kick (and horse!!!) Patsy.

This tour’s Lady of the Lake is played by none other than the legendary Bonnie Langford. Her outstanding career has embraced success in theatre, television, film and radio in both Britain and America and her wealth of experience was blinding obvious in her pintsized yet powerful performance as the ultimate diva.

 However, my favourite performances of the night were that of Jon Robyns, as he is transformed from a mud-covered simpleton into the hair flicking ‘dashingly handsome’ Sir Galahad, as well as superbly song and decidedly camp portrayal of Prince Herbert (amongst other roles) by Adam Ellis. And at the end of the day, you couldn’t possibly have a Monty Python musical without a few squeaky voiced men playing the roles of women!!!

  I enjoyed all the songs immensely, especially the extremely funny The Song That Goes Like This, Diva’s Lament and You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz, which had been adapted beautifully for a modern British audience with references to Jedward, Downton Abbey, Susan Boyle and Ozzy Osbourne. All the Python fans in the audience were obviously waiting for the Python theme tune, Always Look On the Bright Side, which came at the start of Act 2 and made a predictable but welcome return as a sing along reprise at the end of the show.

All in all, a highly entertaining evening not to be missed.

Spamalot runs all week, up to and including Saturday 14th April at 7.30 p.m. with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30 p.m.  Ticket prices range from £15.50 – £36.50.

To book, visit  www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury or call the box office on 0844 871 7607 (booking fee applies)

Further Tour Dates

16th – 21st April 2012 at THE SUNDERLAND EMPIRE
23rd – 28th April 2012 at THE BRISTOL HIPPODROME
30th April – 5th May 2012 at BROMLEY, THE CHURCHILL
7th – 12th May 2012 at THE CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE
14th – 19th May 2012 at THE TRURO HALL FOR CORNWALL 
21st – 26th May 2012 at THE MANCHESTER OPERA HOUSE


Vicky Poole

www.uktheatre.net

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