Spamalot, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review
Fish slapping, shrubberies and giant wooden rabbits. It's not an episode of Takeshi's Castle, but the closest thing you can get to it on a British stage.
Spamalot needs minimal introduction. Mixing all the goodness of hit movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail with modern cultural references and musical bravado it leaps from one absurd scenario to the next with belly aching ease.
The premise is simple in this romp, put on by South Staffs Musical Theatre Company. King Arthur must unite his lauded Knights of the Round Table, seek the Holy Grail itself and marry the 'soggy blonde with her backside in the pond'.
But things are never that simple when the Monty Python lads are involved. Along the way they must contend with a suicidal Black Knight, some demanding souls with an interesting dialect, a key member of their unit who discovers a lot about his sexuality and worst of all...the French.
It pokes fun at musical theatre throughout. It mocks thespians for how seriously they take their art and generally makes us noobs in the audience feel like we are part of the gang and able to join in.
Perhaps then, that makes it even more appealing for am dram. When somebody's costume falls apart or a knight's head doesn't roll off his shoulders on cue it makes it even funnier. This, more than any other show, is meant to have mistakes and mishaps. It cries out for them.
The musical numbers are a treat, particularly for those who love satire. The Camelot sequence, The Song That Goes Like This and His Name Is Lancelot will all have you chuckling along.
There are those like Adam Starr as Prince Herbert and the hugely watchable Chris Dowen as Sir Galahad/Herbert's Father who deliberately mess about with their vocals.
And aside from the laughs, too, there is some big talent. We had Natasha Bennett Ince as the Lady of the Lake this evening - depending on what day you see the show she swaps with her sister Lexie - and she can sing. Like, really sing. But she knew it wasn't that serious too, and her frustrated diva act made her the undoubted star of the show.
But she was pushed by the loveable Patsy. The downtrodden squire who bangs together his coconuts to make the sound effect for King Arthur's..."horse"... was amiably played by James Collins, who constantly got the biggest laughs for his 'watch him at the back or you'll miss the joke' performance and also the loudest cheers during the ending.
As mentioned, a show like this works perfectly in am dram. The little mishaps add to the hilarity, and you have to put your hands together and appreciate the team behind the curtain too given the huge amount of props and costume changes going on. This was monstrous fun.
Spamalot plays at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre until Saturday.