The musical phenomenon Spamalot has reached Liverpool. Described as ‘lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ it’s designed to be brimful of Python-esque silliness and a generous pouring of musical theatre parody for those not as familiar with the ‘Knights Who Say Ni’. It’s a balance that’s paid off – literally - with the show taking millions worldwide and earning Tony Awards.
After the incessant pre-show music fades it’s clear we’re not watching quite the same performance. The touring set is scaled down and the supporting cast lower in numbers. Hugh Durrant’s design may be small and dwarfed on this stage but it is perfectly formed, imaginative and colourful.
This aside, no matter how tired or stressed you might be, take this reviewer’s word that by the time the final strains of the third number "He Is Not Dead Yet" are ringing in your ears you will be grinning and your troubles will be forgotten!
Unsurprisingly the plot isn’t complicated – Marcus Brigstocke’s laugh out loud King Arthur is recruiting knights to his Round Table. With a task from the almighty and all-knowing God (Eric Idle) to find his lost mug (the Holy Grail) they mount their horse (Todd Carty with two halves of a coconut) and begin. The journey takes them from dancing monks to hilariously rude Frenchmen and climaxes with the inevitable happy ending, wedding and sing-a-long of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
Brigstocke is great and Carty on form if a little under-used. The full appreciation of his Baldrick-esque facial expressions requires a smaller theatre.Who better to sing the musical theatre parody "The Song That Goes Like This" than I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger and boy does she belt it out. The star, though, is the expressive David Langham who shows moments of musical comedy genius as Prince Herbert and ensemble roles.
The silliness is ramped up in the second half which does drag but that moment passes and Christopher Luscome’s direction and Jenny Arnold’s choreography help the story bounce along. The show like its inspiration breaks the third wall to great effect and you will be humming the music by John Du Prez and Idle himself for days.
Towards the close one character declares “in a thousand years time this will still be controversial”. Whilst I’m unsure about that, Spamalot will remain full of witty wordplay and a brilliant tonic for any blues.
- David Jack