Spamalot, the Holy Grail of Musicals - “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

By Manchester's Finest | 3 June 2012

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These days, we associate spam with Nigerian princes who are full of tall tales, and short on cash. But in medieval England, Spamalot was the Vegas of its day. As King Arthur traipses round England fighting off the French, the pesky foreigners are still there. But this time, no emails in sight – surprising given that broadband was much faster before the invention of porn.The tagline tells us Spamalot has been “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. But whilst there are a few in-jokes, you don’t need to have seen the film to find it funny. That said, you do have to find people being slapped in the face with a fish funny. And cows used as weapons. Vegetarians beware.

If the term “dead parrot” means something to you, chances are you’ll already have a fair idea of what to expect – lots of witty silliness. In true Python fashion, we also had a fair amount of cross-dressing and knights prancing about as if on a horse. (Man up top, galloping legs down below. Are they the jockey? Or the horse? There’s no need to decide!)

Starring Todd Carty of Eastenders AIDS-fame as the sidekick to comedian Marcus Brigstocke’s King Arthur, the medieval humour has been brought bang up to date. Amusingly, Brigstocke even wears his trademark black specs all the way through too. If he’d taken them off he might not have realised his love interest was almost 10 years older – and Bonnie Langford. To be fair, Langford is amazing and gets some very funny songs, even if she does look like Cilla Black’s lovechild.The second half’s funnier than the first, with fewer Python in-jokes – after all, anyone can be amused by a monk motorboating a nun, and the word CAMELOT rearranged to spell CAMLTOE. Apart from maybe monks. Or nuns. Or nuns with a camel toe. But if you are familiar with the film, you won’t be disappointed in how they creatively handle the maiming of the Black Knight.

This was theatrical Prozac. Its relentless cheer was like being slapped in the face with a fish from start to finish. Who’d have thought plague-based songs could be an antidote to the depressing state of the nation today? Even the cast seem to be having fun, with a couple of knights stifling giggles of their own.

Its silly British humour was summed up perfectly by the finale’s classic sing-a-long, ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ – led by Todd Carty, who’d been playing second fiddle for much of the show. Maybe the Elton John AIDS Foundation had a word and the producers let him have a go.

The verdict: A great (k)night out.