IN times of depressing austerity, fevered egos, and where being offended is something of a social past-time, how refreshing it is to see a theatre show not take itself too seriously by having a thoroughly good laugh at itself.
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Enter Spamalot: a surrealist piece of Monty Python-esque panto, lovingly ripped off from Python’s Holy Grail movie.
A send-up of musicals, here we follow King Arthur (Joe Pasquale) and his merry band of Knights as they quest for the Grail - which, according to Arthur, might be found in Debenhams. In fact, the Grail is much closer than we think.
Anyway, this two-hour show of visual gags, xenophobic smut, and screaming-from-the-rafters camp, is a reminder of how positively brilliant British humour can be under the right direction.
Who knew that The Lady Of The Lake (Sarah Earnshaw) is actually a sassy diva who demands to have more stage-time. That Sir Lancelot (Jamie Tyler) would rather be dancing with the Village People than sat at the Round Table. Or that the Black Knight (Richard Meek) - having lost all his limbs in a sword-fight - would continue to look on the bright side of life.
Ozzy Osbourne makes a hilarious cameo (as did Evening News entertainment editor, Liam Rudden, as Sir Not Appearing on opening night), Jeremy Clarkson’s mentioning suggests the production likes to keep some aspects topical, and who doesn’t find the French farting in the general direction of the English funny?
It also helps that director Christopher Luscombe has assembled the perfect cast.
Pasquale, ironically, plays the only straight-acting role. Yet he has the comedic timing of a Swiss-made watch. His effortless ability to engage, as well as to crack up his co-stars, ensured a ripple of laughter around the Playhouse all night.
Todd Carty, meanwhile, enjoys himself and is a royal hoot as Patsy.
The real genius here, though, is the inclusion of the ordinary and the mundane amongst the insanity of Eric Idle’s fantastical realm. Indeed, it’s precisely this that makes Spamalot so down-to-earth, hugely entertaining and hilariously funny.
Some Knight indeed.
Run ends Saturday