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Monty Python’s Spamalot review at Palace Theatre

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“Lovingly ripped off from the motion picture” reads the publicity strap on Monty Python’s Spamalot and how right they are.

All the gags and punchlines retold so faithfully by stoned students up and down the country at three in the morning are here in fabulous 3D so that Spamalot may well develop the same devoted fan-base (or should that be spam-base) as the Rocky Horror Show.

Audience members wave fluffy white rabbits and mouth their favourite lines to one another. But Eric Idle and long-time Python associate John du Prez have skilfully woven between this the sort of classic, singalong big musical songs of which the West End has long been bereft.

Yes they are pastiches soaked in metatheatrics, but audiences will be singing them as they leave – particularly Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, nicked from the Life of Brian and crowbarred in here as the Python’s finest musical moment.

There are moments when it doesn’t quite work – namely You Won’t Succeed, in which King Arthur is told that he won’t be able to put a show on in the West End without a Jew.

While this reference is fine for Broadway, and while there are, of course, Jewish producers involved in many shows the West End, it is not a stereotype with which British audiences will identify. On press night it was initially greeted with an awkward silence.

While some of the original Broadway cast perform in the West End run – Tim Curry’s played-straight if slightly bemused King Arthur among them – it is Tom Goodman-Hill who gives the standout performance in a variety of roles played in the film by John Cleese. It is a performance worthy of a best supporting actor nomination.

Spamalot is that rare thing – an new original musical that brings colour, life, fun and decent tuneful songs to a West End dominated by back catalogues and Disney shows.

Production Information

Palace Theatre, October 17-March 31

Composer
John du Prez and Eric Idle, book and lyrics Eric Idle
Director
Mike Nichols
Producers
Boyett Ostar Productions, The Shubert Organisation, Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie McClelland/Lawrence Horowitz, Elan V McAllister/Allan S Gordon, Independent Presenters Network, Roy Furman, GRS Associates, Jam Theatricals, Concert Productions International, Live Nation.
Cast includes
Tom Curry, Christopher Sieber, David Birrell, Tom Goodman-Hill, Robert Hands, Darren Southworth, Tony Timberlake
Running time
2hrs 20mins

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