book by Eric Idle music by Eric Idle and John Du Prez.
Tour to 27 June 2015.
Runs 2hr One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 April at Waterside Theatre Aylesbury.
Something not so completely different.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus was called surreal. Seeming to emerge from nowhere, it had a trail of broadcast comedy behind it, through the 1960s. Comedy from university graduates, with humour from the lecture hall rather than the music-hall, its broad burlesquing manner invited everyone to enjoy laughing at all the English had thought they held dear, as upper classes became twits of the year and civil servants embodied silly walks.
It fitted an iconoclastic generation. That Was the Week that Was had started the sixties revelling in revealing the mechanics of TV production, with visible cameras and trailing wires. Monty Python ended it by appearing to rebuke its own techniques: “And now for something completely different” we were told, while scenes were criticised as “very silly”.
For me, the surreality was epitomised off-screen, in the heart of the metropolitan Establishment the Pythons had been undermining. After the annual military ceremony of Beating Retreat in the early seventies, the British forces marched away along The Mall playing J P Sousa’s march ‘Liberty Bell’, its central section being Monty Python’s signature-tune. Everything the series didn’t stand-for was sounding-out its opening strains, minus only the final raspberry and the finger pointing from the sky.
That finger now resembles the National Lottery symbol. Respectability’s returned, anarcho-syndicalism (which is mentioned here) put back in its box. The world outside is more security-anxious. Seriousness reigns and humour has to take its targets directly. The money which allowed the fun has run out to play somewhere else.
So Spamalot, bright and loud, travels the country, struggling to pack the Pythons’ favourite processed meat into the plot around King Arthur. Joe Pasquale is highly efficient at playing Arthur as Joe Pasquale. Many are the laughs he evokes in his manner.
It seems a long way from real Pythonising. And the musical score uses devices it also wants to denounce – the swelling volumes, the climbing key signatures. Perhaps we should always look on the bright side of life as the song-sheet, which helps link the thing to pantomime, says. But, sometimes very silly; it’s no longer something completely different.
King Arthur: Joe Pasquale.
The Lady of the Lake: Sarah Earnshaw.
Patsy: Todd Carty.
Sir Robin/Mayor/Guard: Will Hawksworth.
Prince Herbert/Historian/Not Dead Fred/Minstrel: Richard Kent.
Sir Dennis Galahad/Black Knight/Prince Herbert’s Father: Ricjard Meek.
Sir Lancelot/French Taunter/Knight of Ni/Tim the Enchanter: Jamie Tyler.
Sir Bedevere/Mrs Galahad/Cohncord/Guard: Josh Wilmott.
God: Hugh Bonneville
Wnsemble: Dan iel Cane, Abiggail Climer, Matthew Dale, Holly Easterbrook.
Swings: Richard Astbury, Ste Clough, Inez Mackenzie.
Director: Christophe Luscombe.
Designer/Costume: Hugh Durrant.
Lighting: Nick Richings.
Sound: Terry Jardine and Augoustos Psillas, for Autograph.
Musical Director/Musical Supervisor: Tony Castro.
Choreographer: Jenny Arnold.
Fight director: Malcolm Ranson.
Associate firector: Guy Unsworth.
Resident director: Simon Greiff.
13-18 Apr 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Waterside Theatre Aylesbury 0844 871 767 www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury
20-25 Apr 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Sat 2.30pm Churchill Theatre Bromley 0844 871 7620 www.atgtickets.com/bromley
27 Apr-2 May 8pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Cliffs Pavilion Southend-on-Sea 01702 351135 www.southendtheatres.org.uk
11-16 May 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Liverpool Empire 0844 871 3017 www.atgtickets.com/liverpool
18-23 May 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Sunderland Empire 0844 871 3022 www.atgtickets.com/sunderland
25-30 May Mon-Wed 7.30pm; Thu-Sat 8pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Bath 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk
1-6 June 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm King’s Theatre Glasgow 0844 871 7648 www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre
8-13 June 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7646 www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre
15-20 June 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Milton Keynes Theatre 0844 871 7652 www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes
22-27 June 7.30pm Mat Wed 2pm & Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Nottingham 0115 989 5555 www.trch.co.uk