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Belgrade Coventry


As Eric Idle’s fellow Python John Cleese described Spamalot the Musical; “It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen…” and, obviously, based as it is on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, itself no slouch on the silly front, this is quite a statement.

It is very silly – but also very witty and very funny. We know what we’re in for when we see the Python branding and this is no disappointment. It’s the product of good friendships, radical faith in the creative process and good minds being let off the lead to great effect.

The story is of the looser variety with many a serpentine diversion. King Arthur (Bob Harms) accompanied by faithful stooge Patsy (Rhys Owen) is on a quest to find some knights.

First there’s Sir Lancelot (Johnathan Tweedie), Sir Galahad (Norton James), Sir Robin (Stephen Arden), Sir Bedevere (Marc Akinfolarin) with each selected on a less than rigorous set of criteria. None of them come across as particularly smart. Their quest subtly changes to the hunt for the Holy Grail which magically appears in the auditorium – and then another one!

It’s hugely enjoyable with a hard-working cast and set, some wonderful music and a real band in the pit. There is also some cracking dancing on stage as well as some sumptuous singing particularly from the Lady of the Lake (Sarah Harlington).

The tortuous and lengthy route to the stage relied on a wonderful duet she shares, “The Song that Goes like This” plus the evergreen “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. But there are many more, written by Eric Idle and the young trumpeter, John Du Prez, the Pythons met on the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail way back in 1975.

The sections I particularly enjoyed were “I am not dead yet”, a really funny and great song that I hadn’t heard before. “I’m all alone” where gradually the entire cast joins in is brilliant and very funny. If you’re a Python fan, this is for you.

If you work out how the coconut shells reached England in 923AD, let everyone else know; we’re waiting! Suspend disbelief and get on with enjoying the drama. It’s well worth it. Directed by Daniel Buckroyd the quest goes on to 03-03-18.

Jane Howard


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