Review: Spamalot

By John Jeffay, July 8, 2010
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Opera House, Manchester

Marcus Brigstocke and Jodie Prenger in the gloriously silly Spamalot

Marcus Brigstocke and Jodie Prenger in the gloriously silly Spamalot

Spamalot is a mix of camped-up musical, Monty Python silliness and Arthurian legend that would have even the most-hardened detractor of Cleese, Palin, Idle et al whistling along to a final reprise of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Browse the list of musical numbers and you get a feel for just how silly it is. It opens with the Fisch Schlapping Song, then He Is Not Dead Yet, in which a plague-ridden corpse insists he is still fit enough to join King Arthur, followed by His Name is Lancelot, in which the newly-outed knight "likes to dance a lot".

Spamalot has been, as the blurb puts it, "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Eric Idle and John du Prez. It is a parody of itself, and of all that is popular about stage musicals. It would be hard to go wrong with such an appealing script and rousing songs, and Spamalot has already had successful runs on Broadway, the West End and elsewhere since it opened in 2005.

The small cast in this slimmed-down production, directed by Christopher Luscombe, do a fine job as they scurry between numerous role switches.

Marcus Brigstocke plays King Arthur and has something of the John Cleese (who took the film role) about him as he earnestly pursues his noble quests. It is the year 923, and in the divided kingdom of England he must recruit knights for his "very, very, very round" table, embark on a search for the Holy Grail, and procure a shrubbery for the dastardly Knights who say 'Ni'.

Jodie Prenger, as the Lady of the Lake, gives a tremendous performance centred on the huge voice that won her the BBC 1's talent-spotting show I'd Do Anything and with it the role of Nancy in the West End production of Oliver!. (Tel: 0844 847 2295)

John JeffaySpamalot is a mix of camped-up musical, Monty Python silliness and Arthurian legend that would have even the most-hardened detractor of Cleese, Palin, Idle et al whistling along to a final reprise of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Browse the list of musical numbers and you get a feel for just how silly it is. It opens with the Fisch Schlapping Song, then He Is Not Dead Yet, in which a plague-ridden corpse insists he is still fit enough to join King Arthur, followed by His Name is Lancelot, in which the newly-outed knight "likes to dance a lot".

Spamalot has been, as the blurb puts it, "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Eric Idle and John du Prez. It is a parody of itself, and of all that is popular about stage musicals. It would be hard to go wrong with such an appealing script and rousing songs, and Spamalot has already had successful runs on Broadway, the West End and elsewhere since it opened in 2005.

The small cast in this slimmed-down production, directed by Christopher Luscombe, do a fine job as they scurry between numerous role switches.

Marcus Brigstocke plays King Arthur and has something of the John Cleese (who took the film role) about him as he earnestly pursues his noble quests. It is the year 923, and in the divided kingdom of England he must recruit knights for his "very, very, very round" table, embark on a search for the Holy Grail, and procure a shrubbery for the dastardly Knights who say 'Ni'.

Jodie Prenger, as the Lady of the Lake, gives a tremendous performance centred on the huge voice that won her the BBC 1's talent-spotting show I'd Do Anything and with it the role of Nancy in the West End production of Oliver!.

(Tel: 0844 847 2295)

Last updated: 11:18am, July 8 2010