Sep 27 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Hilarious

King’s Theatre: Tue 26 – Sat 30 Sept 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Mercury Theatre, Colchester’s touring version of Monty Python’s Spamalot for Selladoor Productions is consistently funny and may just be the best version of the show to have come to Edinburgh.

One of the songs written by Eric Idle and John du Prez for their reworked version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail insists that – on this side of the Atlantic at least – a musical without a marquee name is bound to fail. This production very definitely shows that to be a lie. Some of the later incarnations of the original Spamalot did appear to cast their King Arthur with an eye on the box office. By the end – although always funny – the outcome could be somewhat unbalanced and a little tired.

Sarah Harlington and Norton James. Pic: Selladoor Prouctions

This version is undeniably fresh and inventive, and as a result is constantly cheering. A prime example is the aforementioned You Won’t Succeed In Showbiz, discharged here with verve and nerve by Stephen Arden as the not-so-brave Sir Robin, featuring some clever updating and a cheeky homage to Sally Bowles.

Director Daniel Buckroyd injects the rest of the show with the same freshness and energy. There are moments that are certainly close to the film, but few who have seen the celluloid Knights Who Say Ni or the French Taunter would be able to perform those lines without aping the originals. While Python fans are the primary audience, there is no need to have any familiarity with their output, as the musical still works remarkably well on its own merits.

The conventions and cliches of musical theatre are as much the butt of the joke as anything, with Sarah Harlington providing a fittingly OTT slighted diva as the Lady of the Lake. Her take on Whatever Happened To My Part is particularly pleasing, while she and Norton James’s expansive Galahad make The Song That Goes Like This genuinely funny however often you may have heard it before.

reassuringly Pythonesque

The cast throw themselves into a huge variety of roles with relish. Jonathan Tweedie and Marc Akinfolarin are versatile performers, while Matthew Pennington and Rhys Owen are likeable comic presences. Bob Harms is a gratifyingly straightforward Arthur after some of the ‘name’ performers of the role, and at times has a reassuringly Pythonesque quality – although he is much more reminiscent of John Cleese than of Graham Chapman’s original.

“Do you smell pantomime” The Camelot scene in Spamalot. Pic: Selladoor Productions

Ashley Nottingham’s choreography pokes gentle fun at West End tropes while being impressive in itself, with the Camelot number, complete with tap-dancing on Spam cans, a real highlight. Hints of pantomime in the staging are both welcome and judiciously used.

Sara Perks’s design is clever and impressive – constraints on budget and staging felt by touring productions are rarely in evidence, with the occasional struggles of a tiny band to do justice to the bigger numbers the only real drawback.

Otherwise, there is little to fault in a production that scores very highly indeed for sheer entertainment and comes highly recommended.

Running time 2 hours 10 minutes including one interval
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ.
Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 September 2017
Evenings 7.30 pm, Matinee Wed and Sat at 2.30 pm

Tour facebook page: @spamuktour.
Tour on Twitter: @spamuktour.

Spamalot on tour:
Tue 26 – Sat 30 Sep 2017 Edinburgh
King’s Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
Wed 4 – Sat 7 Oct 2017 Birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
Tue 10 – Sat 14 Oct 2017 Sunderland
0844 871 3022 Book online
Tue 24 – Sat 28 Oct 2017 Exeter
Northcott Theatre
01392 72 63 63 Book online
Tue 31 Oct – Sat 4 Nov 2017 Chester
0845 241 7868 | Book online
Tue 7– Sat 11 Nov 2017 Manchester
0844 871 3019 Book online
Tue 14 – Sat 18 Nov 2017 Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645 Book online
Tue 21– Sat 25 Nov 2017 Wimbledon
New Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
Tue 16 – Sat 20 Jan 2018 Buxton
Opera House
01298 72190 Book online
Tue 30 Jan – Sat 3 Feb 2018 Reading
The Hexagon
0118 960 6060 Book online
Tue 6 – Sat 10 Feb 2018 Eastbourne
Devonshire Park Theatre
01323 412000 Book online
Tue 20 – Sat 24 Feb 2018 Portsmouth
New Theatre Royal
023 9264 9000 Book online
Tue 27 Feb – Sat 3 Mar 2018 Coventry
Belgrade Theatre
024 7655 3055 Book online
Tue 6 – Sat 10 Mar 2018 Malvern
Festival Theatre
01684 892277 Book online
Tue 13 – Sat 17 Mar 2018 Billingham
Forum Theatre
01642 552663 Book online
Tue 20 – Sat 24 Mar 2018 Cardiff
Millenium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
Tue 27 – Sat 31 Mar 2018 Basildon
Townsgate Theatre
01268 465465 Book online
Tue 3 – Sat 7 Apr 2018 Wirral
Floral Pavillion
0151 666 0000 Book online
Tue 17 – Sat 21 Apr 2018 Derby
Derby Theatre
01332 593939 Book online
Tue 24 – Sat 28 Apr 2018 Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000 Book online
Tue 8 – Sat 12 May 2018 Doncaster
Cast Theatre
01302 303 959 Book online
Tue 15 – Sat 19 May 2018 Shrewsbury
Theatre Seven
01743 281281 Book online


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  1. Chevalier (Knight in english) says:

    We attended the show in Dublin the 26th!
    I was incredibly well played with a small cast but exceptional
    We will be more than Happy to see again the show in Dublin or in the UK
    Christophe and Marie