Befitting its bijou new home, this is a neater, less sprawling Spamalot than the one that opened in Broadway in 2005. It is shorter, has a tighter script (without losing the oomph of its musical numbers) and includes many a contemporary nod and a wink joke - to Boris or the Olympics. And I never knew Monty Python could be so camp.
A scene from Spamalot at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London Photo: Tristram Kenton
Yes, with Bonnie Langford playing the all-singing, all-dancing Guinevere and Lady of the Lake I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised. But she really steals this show proving what a versatile and magnetic performer she is. Whether belting out musical numbers, jazz, or full-throated gospel her performance is exceptionally powerful. Best of all she is unafraid to do what this role really requires and that is take the mickey out of herself.
The press night’s Arthur was Marcus Brigstocke (he alternates with Jon Culshaw). He is amiable enough and is more than happy to corpse when required, for it would be hard to break what is a supremely childish show, with plenty of in-jokes and familiar sing-alongs. You pity any poor person who comes not knowing what to expect (hard to imagine admittedly given how the once young and anarchic Pythons are all pensioners nowadays and part of comedy history).
The supporting cast are excellent. Todd Carty as Arthur’s servant Patsy provides an unexpectedly tender turn and proves he has a more than serviceable voice - which is perhaps all that is required in what is one of the West End’s smaller stages where the cartoony backdrops lend a feel of pantoish fun. But what’s wrong with that? After all, what do you expect? The Spanish Inquisition?