Spamalot – Theater review

I haven’t laughed this much at a play in my life. Monty Python’s Spamalot is, according to the playbill, “a new musical (lovingly) ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” As expected from anything written by one of Python’s original players, Eric Idle (who is the voice of God here, literally), it is very, very funny. However, I think the fun quotient will be lower for those who are unfamiliar with the movie.

For the uninitiated, Spamalot follows a self-important but likeable King Arthur and his manservant Patsy as they roam the countryside in search of knights for the Round Table, as instructed by the Lady of the Lake. While he does meet up with Galahad, Lancelot, and Robin, Arthur also meets up with a hodge podge of colorful, ridiculous, self-aware characters who have something of a historic view of the transpiring events. Arguments about the migratory habits of swallows, or “outdated imperialistic dogma,” ensue, given by peasants who treat him in something far short of a kingly manner. “I didn’t vote for you,” voices one.

Most of the famous movie lines are here, and the man in front of me said them right along with the characters. The play does depart from the movie as our, I hesitate to say “story”, progresses. Quests for grails and shrubbery give way to literally putting on a Broadway show for the knights who say ni.

Our hero, Arthur, is played by Gary Beach, with a strong voice and a twinkle in his eye. However, my favorite performances were those of Mika Duncan who played the French Taunter, and Lesli Margherita who plays the Lady of the Lake. The French Taunter is of course, a favorite section of the movie. However, Mika Duncan goes the extra mile here, throwing himself into delivery so much that the man next to me was almost in tears of hilarity. “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries,” is only one of his hysterical lines, but it is his exuberant raspberries that put him in a whole other class of funny. Leslie Margherita’s Lady of the Lake can do spot-on Cher and Barbara Streisand impressions, but it is her pique at not having a larger part that I enjoyed most.

Songs (all lyrics by Eric Idle), include “Knights of the Round Table,” in which “Camelot is made to rhyme with “We sing from the diaphram a lot,” “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” which rhymes “percentile” with “Gentile,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” which was co-opted from the movie The Life of Brian, and the showstoppers, “The Song That Goes Like This,” and “Whatever Happened to My Part.”

They take full advantage of the theater in the round here, using all the aisles, which definitely engaged this audience. If you enjoy maestros of the non sequitur, this show is for you.

by Heather Craig

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