In a carbon copy of what took place on Broadway, Tim Curry has hung up Excalibur and Monty Python’s Spamalot has a new King Arthur in the shape of Simon Russell Beale.
Fans of the show will not be disappointed. From the moment SRB canters coconut-style onto the Palace stage there is a twinkle in his eye.
In contrast to the heavy-weight roles Russell Beale is best known for, the much acclaimed actor obviously relishes an opportunity to be delightfully silly alongside an excellent bunch of performers behaving in a similar vein.
Despite the efforts of this high quality ensemble, the constant barrage of comic sketches linked by high speed production numbers in the first half of the show leaves one somewhat jaded. However, Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s Act II is considerably better constructed and the more entertaining, allowing Russell Beale and his cohorts to bring the production to an uplifting conclusion.
Versatile as ever, he is in fine voice and displays impressive comic timing. During a number such as I’m All Alone there is at last a chance to connect with the central characters and sense some pathos at work.
Many of the other principal players remain the same, including Hannah Waddingham as The Lady of the Lake, both visually and vocally in stunning form. Tom Goodman-Hill (Sir Lancelot, The French Taunter etc) also deserves a special mention, the standard of comedy always going up a notch when he is onstage.