You only have to utter the phrases “Nudge, nudge, wink, wink”, “Beautiful plumage” or “He’s not the Messiah” – and you will have any Monty Python devotee producing a wry grin. Almost like strange passwords to a secret club, which once known are never forgotten, they trigger memories of many years ago. Back to a group of people who were, quite simply, years ahead of their time.
As a result of this familiarity, Eric Idle and John Du Prez had to do very little to the original scripts to create what can only be described as, a musical masterpiece. This homage to the Holy Grail film contains many of the most famous scenes, all lovingly recreated, together with a few items lifted from the other Python successes.
Following the historical introduction, explaining exactly how dark the Dark Ages were, the audience is treated to a Scandinavian fish-slapping song, by a strange group who misheard the word England as Finland – and so the classic Python silliness begins.
Marcus Brigstocke shows off his fine singing voice as well as his superb comic timing, as King Arthur and, together with his loyal but downtrodden assistant Patsy –played brilliantly by Todd Carty – they lead a fantastically odd team of knights on their quest. Helped on their way by Jodie Prenger as the Lady of the Lake and (albeit on film only) Idle as God, it is only a matter of time before they arrive at the French castle to faithfully recreate one of the most memorable scenes from the film.
The small cast double and treble their characters; each obviously has a preferred part in which they excel. Jon Robyns makes a perfectly vain Sir Galahad with Robin Armstrong playing his typically Python-style screechy-voiced mother. Foppish Sir Robin gives Rob Delaney a great opportunity to indulge his more sensitive side.
Graham MacDuff] is just brilliant as the closeted Sir Lancelot, whose extremely camp coming-out scene with Adam Ellis as his new boyfriend, Prince Herbert, was one of the highlights of this spectacular show. Everything you could hope for is here, from the killer rabbit and flying cow to the Knights who say Ni and, while it is not totally necessary to know the film, it certainly helps.
One notable addition to the grail story is the inclusion of “Always look on the bright side of life” which provides a great opening to act two, as well as a very pantomime- like finale. Musically, Prenger is streets ahead of the rest of the cast and together with Brigstocke, they belt out “The song that goes like this” – a wonderful parody of musical theatre.
The silliness that is Monty Python makes this a short, but extremely funny, show . It’s suitable for families but, although fairly mild, the occasional use of ripe language may upset some unsuspecting parents.