King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table and the whole Arthurian legend appear in many guises. There is the classic book The Once and Future King; the lush romantic musical Camelot and currently on television there is Merlin. But there has never been anything quite like Spamalot the musical now on tour after successful runs on Broadway and in the West End.
If you have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail from which this show is ‘lovingly ripped’ you will have some idea of what to expect. It is brash, unsubtle and a lot of fun.
For this touring version the big Broadway show has been cut in all departments and it is to the credit of the team that they have produced something which is short and snappy, colourful and tuneful.
A small company of twelve turn the show into an end of term romp which may be at its best in smaller theatres. The story book set is fun and the ensemble works its socks off to provide moments of humour and all-singing, all-dancing production numbers. The choreography is deliberately cheesy and works a treat.
It is very brave of the show to sing that ‘Liverpool won’t accept just any show but needs stars’ as it is star quality and the wow factor that this production lacks. Marcus Brigstocke is a pleasing enough personality but a rather characterless Arthur. However he does get the biggest laugh of the night with an-lib during the ‘Done’ sequence. Jodie Prenger has vivacity in bucket loads and can belt out a song but misses the humour of the wonderful Act Two Diva Song. As the poor put-upon Patsy, Todd Carty steals the show with a performance that is funny and touching and who can get a laugh just from raising his eyebrows. There is good work too from Rob Delaney as Sir Robin.
Looking on the bright side, as Monty P would have us do, the Black Knight scene provides some good ‘armless fun’; ‘The Song that Goes Like This’ alone is worth the ticket price, there is a wonderful hat stand headdress and it is sheer brilliance to rhyme ‘diaphragm a lot’ with ‘Camelot’. And then there are more wicked lines and witty topical gags in the second half!
An enjoyable show? Yes but not memorable except for THAT song (Always look….). You come out of the theatre humming it and it will be ages before it stops revolving in your head.