Monthy Python’s Spamalot. Presented by Showbiz Christchurch. Director/Choreographer Sara Brodie. Musical director Luke Di Somma. Isaac Theatre Royal. 4-12 September. Reviewed by Kineta Knight Booker.
The stage oozed with warmth, energy, and hilarity. The audience reacted with laughter, singing and whistling. This is one absurdly nutty show. Away from the lights of the theatre, the sound effects, pyrotechnics and a real wizard on stage, you might question yourself – did that really just happen?
If you’re a Monty Python fan, you’re in the right place. You understand the intelligence of the humour. If it’s not your thing, or you’ve never been introduced to it, your first reaction might be to look for your closest exit or at least sit there and wonder what on earth is going on. A servant who plays coconuts to simulate the king riding a horse? Men with beards playing women? Ham acting like you’ve never seen it before?
This musical comedy is based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and retells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, while parodying other Broadway musicals as it goes.
And I just can’t get over what a crazy show it was. Is my theatre brain so structured it doesn’t know how to process complete ridiculousness, but at the same time guffawing at the lunacy?
It’s a busy stage, although sometimes a bit bunchy, with hundreds of costumes, and a wealth of talented actors. The orchestra, lead by Luke Di Somma, was clever and powerful, and the songs came easily from the cast through Di Somma’s direction.
A favourite scene has got to have been in the plague village – I Am Not Yet Dead. Humourous direction from Sara Brodie and great ensemble work from the cast.
The sets are spectacular, which is completely typical of Showbiz, and the height and the depth of the set would have taken an age to complete. Lighting of King Arthur (Jason Reekers) in I’m All Alone was beautiful, yet the face of the stunning lone ballerina was unfortunately lost.
Reekers plays a superbly silly King Arthur, and mention must go to Lady of the Lake, Leigh Wilson. Prima donna to a tee, playing the only female lead with passion and gusto. It’s great to see Wilson back treading the boards after many years away from theatre. And then there’s Patsy (Warwick Shillito). He simply steals the show. Showbiz, where did you find this gem? And Brett McPhail (Not Dead Fred/Herbert/French Taunter). Another brilliant new face.
Even the poor audience member who was dragged up on stage, Jo “Do you have a last name?” No, added to the hilarity of the night.
A great big nod to this show. Monty Python lovers won’t regret it, and newbies – expect silliness to prevail in your mind for days after seeing it.