Above: Song and dance in Camelot. Below right: Chris Kellett as King Arthur and Chris Cathcart, as Patsy. Photos: Kris Anderson
Monty Python’s Spamalot
Book and lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
Presented by Prima
Redcliffe Cultural Centre
Season: September 29-October 8. Duration: 3 hours includes interval. Bookings: www.prima.org.au
Spamalot is a musical based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail and follows the journey of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they traverse Briton, and bits of Gaul, in search of the Holy Grail.
As any fan of Monty Python would know, this is a classic parody of huge proportions, over the top humour, naughtiness, and silliness, with ridiculous songs thrown in just for good measure.
The show opens with a mid-stage curtain on which the map of Briton appears and a man in a suit standing on top of the castle wall gives us a rundown of the state of affairs of the country in around about 900 AD – mostly pestilence and famine with a hint of plague.
Enter King Arthur riding a make believe horse and his servant, Patsy, clopping together two coconuts for the sound of hooves. And it continues in this vein of nonsense until the very end. Arthur is King of Briton (and bits of Gaul) by virtue of Excalibur, the legendary sword, given to him by the Lady of the Lake.
However, as he goes forth to rally men to become knights and join him at the Round Table in Camelot, he comes across people who haven’t even heard of him, let alone believe him to be their King. Once he has his knights gathered at Camelot, instead of heading out on their quest, they all party shamelessly until God intervenes and tells them to stop mucking about and get on with it.
Chris Kellett was superb as King Arthur, ad-libbing at times to cover mistakes, and there were a few, but these only added to the hilarity of the whole show – particularly in my favourite scene with the Black Knight, who gets all his arms and legs cut off by Arthur. Unfortunately, some exuberance had an amputated arm flying off stage and Patsy was sent to retrieve it. Then the Black Knight’s helmet kept falling forward on his face, so Arthur would straighten it for him. The Black Knight’s departure was just as funny as he drags himself off stage and just as he exits he says “God that was a long way”.
King Arthur’s servant, Patsy, was played by Chris Cathcart, whose costume reminded me a bit of Baldrick from the Blackadder TV show. He faithfully clip clopped his coconuts behind Arthur’s prancing, and added a hilarious counter to Arthur’s song – I’m all Alone (no you’re not!). The Lady of the Lake was played by Heidi Enchelmaier, who was simply fantastic – wonderful vocals. Simply loved the bit where she comes out just after half time from the stage door at the side of the theatre, in a sparkly dressing gown, no wig and sings What happened to my part?
Sir Dennis Galahad (Phillip Fitzjohn) with his long hair that he kept slow flicking over his shoulder in the ‘look at me’ fashion, Sir Robin (Ash Simpson) the wimpiest of the knights with his troubadours following him around singing his praises, Sir Lancelot (Nathaniel Currie) who comes out of his armour to reveal his true nature after he rescues Herbert (Jack Kelly) from an overpowering father, were all equally as magnificent in their roles.
The whole cast did very well to keep up the pace of this show, delivering the lines which are soooo silly at times, without breaking character and dissolving into laughter themselves. There was enough of that coming from the audience.
The 125 costumes and wigs were fabulous – from the show girls (the Laker girls and Dennis’ mum) to the Rio tops and bottoms, the knights and especially Lancelot’s sparkly cod piece.
The stage was kept simple with a castle wall that was the width of the stage at the back, with three archways – a large one centre stage and two smaller ones on either side, all curtained. The central archway allowed for a set of stairs to move backwards and forwards, so that the top of the wall could be accessed, as well as giving the Lady of the Lake a grand entrance as she ‘rode’ the stairway on its first appearance.
Apart from a couple of mid stage curtain drops, and the tree trunks and ‘spooky’ looking vines, a few clouds and God’s feet, the castle wall was the main feature throughout. A few extra props, such as a wheelbarrow (for taking away the dead) and a silly looking rock, added variety to the stage.
The Director, Miranda Selwood; Musical Director, Danika Saal; Choreographer, Aurélie Roque and the entire backstage crew have created a hilarious show with some digs at current events.
I am a Monty Python fan from way back, having grown up watching them on telly, and this is only the second time I have seen Spamalot. I loved it - in fact, the show is that bad, it is good. It is cathartic for the soul to sit back and just laugh at total stupidity, ridiculous lines, lyrics and acting that is the Python style.