Coconut shells simulate the sound of horses' hooves as Eric Idle's absurdly hilarious musical gallops into Manchester. “Lovingly” ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail – very loosely based on Arthurian legend – Spamalot revisits familiar scenes from the film accompanied by a score of very silly musical numbers.
Phill Jupitus is brilliantly deadpan as King Arthur, rapping with an impossibly straight face along with enthusiastic cheerleaders as Dennis is transformed into Sir Galahad, and launching Never-Mind-The-Buzzcocks style into Don't Look Back in Anger as the Knights of Ni sketch is adapted for a Manchester audience.
Sir Galahad (Simon Lipkin) and The Lady of the Lake (played this evening by Jessica Martin) give fantastic comic performances, particularly during the overly-romantic "Song That Goes Like This", a hilarious send-up of West End sentimentality.
Samuel Holmes and Graham MacDuff are also highly entertaining as scaredy-cat Sir Robin and closet homosexual Sir Lancelot. Holmes is in total command of the stage as he instructs King Arthur on how to win over a Manchester theatre audience during "You Won't Succeed in Showbiz" – and MacDuff has the audience in stitches as he doubles as the irrepressible French Taunter, farting in the knights' general direction.
Despite the fact that Monty Python originally set out to provide an antidote to this kind of catchphrase comedy, there are plenty of the sketch show's trademark “incidental” moments – a large furry hand reaches out from the wings, a knight who isn't in the show is sent off stage, and Ozzy Osbourne pops up from behind the scenery – to appeal to true Python fans.
A must-see for lovers of mimed slow-motion horse riding everywhere.