Hopelessly silly musical rip-off enjoyed by everyone

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From left, Josie Lane, Jane Watt, Blake Appelqvist, a former cast member and Marty Alix.

Theatre / Monty Python’s “Spamalot”, One Eyed Man productions, at The Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse, until March 1. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

PEOPLE don’t have to be a Monty Python fan to enjoy this hopelessly silly musical rip-off of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, but it certainly adds to the fun as they might recognise the many classic Python routines that are woven into the narrative.

Director Richard Carroll, who was also responsible for the much-admired “Calamity Jane”, has devised another clever knock-about romp, this time, based on the story of King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail. Following its sell-out season at the Hayes Theatre, this production is having its first performances outside Sydney, in Canberra, prior to an extensive regional tour.  

Carroll has gathered together a highly skilled ensemble cast, led by Cramer Cain, rather magnificent as the unwavering King Arthur, who accompanied by his loyal person-servant, Patsy (the ever-adorable Amy Hack) leads his knights of the mini-round table on an epic quest in which they actually do discover the Holy Grail. 

Canberra’s own Blake Appelqvist, in fine voice, is the ever-obliging Sir Galahad. Abe Mitchell is the macho Sir Lancelot who makes a surprising discovery about himself during the epic journey. Marty Alix steals every scene he’s in, as the mischievous Sir Robin, while Rob Johnson is a delight as the cheeky Prince Albert. Jane Watt is an unlikely Sir Bedevere. When not necessary for knightly duties, all relish the opportunity to play (over-play?) various serfs, witches, noble-persons or armies, met along the journey.

Josie Lane… drop-dead gorgeous, chewing up the scenery… with the best songs in the show.

Then there’s the Lady of the Lake Josie Lane, drop-dead gorgeous, chewing up the scenery, out-warbling Whitney Houston with the best songs in the show, and not afraid to speak up about being under-utilised as the self-declared star. 

The audience will recognise most of the songs, some with clever up-dated lyrics, and be warned, I was be humming “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” for days. Cameron Mitchell is responsible for the clever choreography, which includes an ingenious tap routine. 

Emma Vine has designed a deliberately tacky setting, with costumes to match, and lots of built-in surprises. It even allows some of the audience to become part of the show, and keeps the over-worked assistant stage manager, Bronte MacIness, very busy.

It’s all great fun and the perfect cheer-up to commence the Canberra Theatre Centre’s 20/20 season.   

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