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Spamalot

King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

Monty Python's public school Dada has become ingrained in the global psyche over the last half century. The veteran six-strong troupe's canon of classically educated sketches and routines have trickled down the generations to influence many of today's would-be absurdists. This may be why Eric Idle and composer John du Prez's stage musical of the team's 1975 big-screen Arthurian pastiche, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, feels so timeless, even as it has become a pension plan for its original creators.

The young cast lolloping through David Buckroyd's production are able to mercilessly ham up the assortment of gormless knights, whose heroism in going off in search of the holy grail is consistently thwarted by the terminally mundane. Throw in a few rubbish villains, a Lady of the Lake akin to a latter day luvvied up diva, and a genuine crowd-pleaser transplanted from another Python movie, and the result is a kind of Horrible Histories for grown-ups.

Camelot is rendered as a Las Vegas night-club complete with glitter-spattered show-girls in a way that feels like a vintage Mel Brooks movie in this tour of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester's production. The show's finest moments come in the Andrew Lloyd Webber pastiches in The Song That Goes Like This and Whatever Happened to My Part. Sarah Harlington's Lady of the Lake is central to both of these, with Bob Harms' King Arthur a hapless foil.

After fourteen years since Idle and Du Prez's show first appeared, some of it can feel almost knowingly thin. For those weaned on the Python legacy, however, this remains gloriously throwaway second-hand fun that revels in its own sense of its increasingly pointless ridiculousness.

The Herald, September 29th 2017

ends

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