9-14 February 2015
Reviewed by Helen Jiggins
I do enjoy going out to this theatre, its convenient city-centre location adds to the occasion and it is perfectly placed to grab some food before the performance. Seeing anything Monty Python is also a special treat for me, i.e. someone who remembers the ground-breaking films with a kind of cultural shock and awe and I wasn’t entirely disappointed with Spamalot. A lot of it was very Monty Python, although, as is often the case, many of the laughs came from Python-esque, but new and additional, material. Not that I was able to help giggling away to some of the old favourites, without which, the Monty-ness would be lost. I imagine this old/new balance is the key to making a modern musical from well-known standard.
This production is naturally based on The Holy Grail, with the odd Life of Brian tune thrown in. The Lead is played by Joe Pasquale as King Arthur who heads off on his quest to discover the grail with his trusty Patsy (Todd Carty) and helped by the Lady of the Lake (Sarah Earnshaw). Pasquale was rather fabulous – he really looked like he was enjoying every minute – so much so that his natural stand-up tendencies occasionally erupted into hilarious ad libs, which caused the other actors tremendous difficulties in the keeping-ones-face-straight department! Corpsing aside, there were many funny lines, delivered with great timing. Carty’s Patsy was excellently played, there was not a hint of the Grange Hill/Eastenders angst, his character carried the comedy with aplomb. Earnshaw, as the love interest, was also very funny and she used her obvious singing talent to great comedic effect. The remaining cast played a variety of roles, cross-dressing and quick changes akimbo! They were obviously talented and capable actors and Jamie Tyler, as Sir Lancelot and “Tim”, is worth a special mention.
Overall, there was the occasional bum note and disappointing moment, which is probably inevitable in a two hour production based on a much loved institution, but nevertheless it made for an entertaining evening out. One that was also enjoyed by my son, who although in his 20s, was well aware of the films and is also a Monty Python fan, albeit one of the come-lately variety. We both laughed out loud. I would recommend it, but do leave your precious Python Grail at the door and see it for what it is.
Tickets cost from £13.40 to £42.90 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Monthy Python’s Spamalot is at the New Theatre in Oxford until 14 February 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3020.
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG | 0844 871 3020