Whatever Eric Idle did with this show, he was going to be in for some easy criticism: too many lifts from the Python catalogue, too few, shouldn’t have done it at all, etc. Well, all I can say is, Spamalot was one of the most memorably funny evenings out I’ve had for years. I think they got it just right: not a straight run-through of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but not an incessant stream of nudge-nudge wink-wink references to other Python material either, just a bunch of in-yer-face addons to keep everyone happy (Finland, Bright Side of Life, etc).
And let’s face it, whilst I can understand the show having been a hit on Broadway, the West End in London is its real home. Only two of the cast have transferred, from what I’ve read: the magnificent Tim Curry as King Arthur, and Chris Sieber as Sir Dennis Galahad. But the star of the show is – unquestionably – the statuesque Hannah Waddingham as The Lady of the Lake. Apparently she’s only two inches taller than Tim Curry (hmmm…), but she dominated the stage just as the writer and director presumably intended. Fabulous.
Is it worth going? If you’re even a minor Monty Python fan, no question: it’d have been a great night out for you even if the production values hadn’t been so high, but given the full West End treatment, you’ll spend the evening thinking this is something you never thought you’d see. There were a few people around me who clearly didn’t know any Python past Always Look on the Bright Side of Life though, and they seemed to be having just as good a time, thanks to the incessant and hilarious parodies of other musicals, slapstick which anyone would love, and terrific singing and choreography. It’s a Big West End Production in every respect, and a marvellous night out. I’d also thoroughly recommend the CD of the original Broadway show.
* Yes, I know it’s not the most exciting title for a post. But for some reason, at the time of writing, a web search on this fairly basic phrase (“Spamalot London Review”) produced not a single decent hit, so I thought I’d use it and get the traffic. That’s all.