Harry Hadden-Paton does indeed seem to be playing Gyles Brandreth, rather than Michael Palin, as he doesn't capture Palin's innate introversion, though he does capture his befuddled sense of decency. Sam Alexander is an excellent Gilliam, brash and funny. Charity Wakefield does a very creditable American accent as Monty Python's PR point person. However, this play is not very funny, and tellingly only gets real laughs when the players reenact a Python sketch. Neither is the play particularly dramatic, the tension never hitting fever pitch. Therefore, the play's main USP is what it tells us about the cultural gulf between the US and the UK, and that never amounts to much more than informing us that people in Peoria are prudish and patriotic. - Steve
15 Oct 11
Maybe because it was my first theatrical day in over two weeks I was easily pleased or maybe itís because Iím old enough to remember Python first time round, but I rather enjoyed this somewhat indifferently received play about the 1975 US court case where the giant ABC network was challenged by the Pythons over the editing of its shows.
Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam travel to New York to persuade the network to restore much of its cuts and when they fail seek a legal injunction to prevent the scheduled broadcast. Starting and ending in Palinís North London home, most of Steve Thompsonís play tales place in NYC Ė in a hotel room, the network offices, the court and other locations. Along the way, it explores how humour is received differently depending on age and culture and the rights of creative people as well as the relationships between the Pythons (even those not on stage). Itís often very funny indeed.
Francis OíConnorís design is an homage to the TV show and provides a superb surrealistic frame for the play. Edward Hallís staging zips along and there isnít a wasted moment. The cast is uniformly excellent. Harry Hadden-Paton broadens his range with a superb characterisation of Palin, starting as reluctant, moving to apologetic and later to indignant. Sam Alexanderís Gilliam excellently combines outrageousness with eccentricity. Itís great to see Clive Rowe in a non-musical role and heís terrific as Pythonís attorney, as is Matthew Marsh as the judge.
Itís not a great play, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting Ė and a lot more than most critics and other bloggers it seems.
- Gareth James
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