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Spamalot

Spamalot (“lovingly ripped off” from Monty Python’s Holy Grail) is a darkly funny musical currently on tour across the country.

Phill Jupitus (King Arthur), best known for being team captain on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, and his apprentice Todd Carty (Patsy), formerly of Eastenders, led the cast in this stage homage to the popular 1975 film.

Written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, the show turns the modern musical on its head, even before the performance begins.

Before the curtain lifted, an announcement instructed us to keep our mobile phones turned ON, to talk, tweet and do everything else the theatre usually prohibits…before shrieking at us that of course we can’t do these things.

It’s not for an easily offended audience (plenty of swearing and references to the male genitalia) as the show unfolded with plenty of risqué gags.

There was even an appearance from God (the voice of Eric Idle) at one point, calling King Arthur a “tit”, as well as making passing references to Simon Cowell and actors playing Susan Boyle and Ozzy Osbourne. Brilliant stuff.

The interpretation from film to stage is well-handled with flamboyant costumes and colourful scenery keeping you interested too.

Just as in the Monty Python original, there were plenty of silly obstacles for King Arthur and his Knights to overcome.

When they travel to France to find the grail, they are confronted by the loveable French soldier who farts in their general direction. “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.”

And the Knights of the Forest (“We are the Knights who say…NI”) burst in to an Oasis song at one point.

Hats off to Jessica Martin as the Lady of the Lake, who sang with beauty and conviction, but held up the sarcastic, playful tone of the show.

Her duet with Sir Dennis Galahad – ‘The Song That Goes Like This’ – had the crowd rolling with laughter with as they changed key and tone, while singing: ‘We are now changing key’.

‘You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz’ was another wonderful moment when modernity met Monty, as Las Vegas-style cabaret girls told the tale of ‘Spamalot’: “We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and Spam a lot.”

The Black Knight had blood spurting from his missing limbs when he lost a dual with the King, although his victor was convinced it was ‘just a flesh wound.’

I also enjoyed the camp ‘Brave Sir Robin’ who bravely turned his tail and fled when danger reared its ugly head. He and Sir Lancelot – who ends the show by revealing (finally) that he is actually gay – offer a ‘happy ending’ with Prince Herbert.

It was refreshing to see some entertainment which wasn’t particularly bothered about lines in the sand and it will obviously have plenty of appeal for dedicated Python fans.

There are plenty of laughs to be had here, especially for fans of the surreal.

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Reviewed by Matt on 14 May 2011

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