Advertised as ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, “Spamalot” the musical is a silly production from beginning to end. Sit back and relax and just enjoy the show.
'Spamalot' is supposed to be based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table. We first meet King Arthur (Simon Russell Beale) on a recruitment drive for knights. As in the film, Arthur's horse is invisible but his faithful servant, Patsy, provides the sound effects of hooves via two halves of a coconut. Some of the funniest dialogue then happens immediately. To determine how Patsy got a coconut, guards at a castle start debating the migratory habits of various species of swallows, and whether they could carry a coconut to the temperate climate of England. In another scene, French guards lash out endless verbal abuse at Arthur and his Knights.
God is revealed to be no more than a giant pair of feet who instructs Arthur to seek the Holy Grail. What ensues is a journey that finds Arthur and his knights in a ‘variety show’ of ludicrous settings and challenges. There are also appearances from head-bashing monks, a ferocious white rabbit, and a hilarious scene where the Black Knight ends up impaled on a doorway still eager to do battle with Arthur in spite of having had both his arms and legs cut off.
'Spamalot' not only succeeds in recreating some of the best moments in ‘Holy Grail’ but makes a direct attack on the musical genre itself and hits a bullseye. For example, the number “The Song That Goes Like This” pokes fun at the ‘big ballad’ moment that happens in every show.
Beale is a respected British actor known for tackling dramatic roles such as “Hamlet”. He plays it straight faced throughout and succeeds winningly. But best in this show has to be Hannah Waddingham who displays a fabulous range of vocal styles and great comic timing as the Lady of The Lake. After all, she gets all the big ballads. And by the way, you can actually buy a can of Spam at the show (note: due to custom regulations, that can of meat may have to be declared).
Besides this production that currently plays at London's Palace Theatre, the show has settled in for a long successful run on Broadway and if you happen to be in Las Vegas, you’ll be able to catch the production there as well. The combination of “Spam” and “Vegas” in the same sentence should have Hawaii residents flocking to the show at the Wynn Hotel.
‘Spamalot’ plays at the Palace Theatre. Performance times are Mon-Sat at 8pm and Tues & Sat at 3pm. Ticket prices: GBP17.50-60. Book tickets at www.seetickets.com. Recording of the Original Broadway Cast available on iTunes or on CD from Decca Broadway. More information at www.montypythonsspamalot.com. Production photographs used for illustration purposes only.