The anticipation in the Sunderland Empire for the opening night of Spamalot was palpable – there was a buzz in the auditorium before the lights had even gone down. Monty Python fans, presumably, although I must stress that even for a non-Python aficionado like me there was plenty here to enjoy.
With Phill Jupitus off sick, it was down to Graham MacDuff’s King Arthur to seek out a band of knights to join him at this very, very round table. You’d be hard pushed not to think he was in the role full-time, and he was well supported by the talented and energetic ensemble. In a show populated by so many oddballs and eccentrics, it came as a shock at the curtain call to see what a small cast it actually was.
Todd Carty does as nice turn as coconut-wielding Patsy and it would have been nice to see more of Jessica Martin’s Lady of the Lake, a fact she’d agree with wholeheartedly!
Declaring itself “lovingly ripped off from Month Python and The Holy Grail” familiar faces and scenes were peppered throughout, providing many of the highlights – The Knights That Say Ni, some very rude French guards and, in a section that had me doubled-over laughing, The Black Knight.
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life aside, the music isn’t memorable, with lyrics that won’t go down in the annals of history - “We’re knights of the round table, we dance whenever we’re able …We dine well here in Camelot, we eat ham and jam and spam a lot”.
But let’s face it, it doesn’t matter because the whole thing is fantastic fun from start to finish.
Racing along from one bout of silliness to the next, Spamalot is Panto for grown-ups!