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Canberra Today 13°/15° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Always look on the bawdy side of life…


“Spamalot”… provides plenty of opportunities for coarse acting that are embraced with enthusiasm by the large cast. Photo: Janelle McMenamin

Musical Theatre / “Monty Python’s Spamalot”. At the Q, Queanbeyan, until September 24. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.

FOR those with a taste for rough, bawdy theatre, this is the show for you. An unabashed rip-off of the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” this show delights in its own silliness while relating an absurd version of the Arthurian legend. 

For this production, director Jarrad West has taken his cue from its medieval setting to strip the Q theatre stage of any decoration other than triangular tables on either side at which unsuspecting audience members were seated. A continuous parade of rough, weird and wacky costumes, augmented by props carried by the large cast, provided indication to the multiple locales encountered by Arthur (Michael Jordan) and his trusty manservant, Patsy (Darcy Kinsella) in their search for the Holy Grail.

The tone is set early in the show when a brief overview of medieval England is interrupted by a group of minstrels who perform a “Fisch Schlapping Song” in the mistaken belief that the narrator had mentioned Finland instead of England. 

The Narrator is one of several roles played by the inimitable Meaghan Stewart during the show. Among them, Not Dead Fred, in the plague scene in which she is killed, several times, by Lancelot (Kristofer Paston-Gill), and most memorably, as the French Taunter who hurls hilarious insults at Arthur and his knights. 

No need to pay too much attention to the storyline, which while extraordinarily silly and convoluted, provides plenty of opportunities for coarse acting that are embraced with enthusiasm by the large cast, which applied the same enthusiasm to the spectacular group numbers choreographed by Michelle Heine.

Integral to the general chaos of the rest of the show is the clever score by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, which contains several immediately recognisable songs, including “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. Others parody Broadway songs including “The Song that Goes Like This” and “Whatever Happened to My Part”, both rendered by Hannah Lance, as the Lady of the Lake, who possesses many of the talents required by a leading lady except the ability to sing in tune.

This score received such terrific treatment from the excellent band, under the baton of maestro Ian McLean, who occasionally participated in some of the happy chaos, that most of the audience stayed in their seats after the show to savour the play-out music. 

This is one of those productions where the cast appear to extract more enjoyment from their participation than those in the audience, some of whom may have wished for a little more of the polish usually associated with Free Rain Theatre productions.

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