Mar 17 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Medieval dead funny

Edinburgh Playhouse: Mon 16 – Sat 21 March 2015

There’s no pork, but plenty of spice and some jolly enjoyable ham as the Monty Python musical returns to Edinburgh – with far fewer Spam references than you might expect from the title.

What it does feature is a splendidly stupid quest plot, silly songs and potty performances in an extremely loose musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Joe Pasquale Photo Manuel Harlan

Joe Pasquale. Photo: Manuel Harlan

And you don’t have to be a big Python fan to enjoy Eric Idle’s script and lyrics, because this isn’t a tribute to the TV show’s surreal dead ends, it’s a proper piece of theatre, as thrillingly shiny and finely honed as Excalibur itself.

The fabled sword stars in the show’s funniest scene, as the permanently exasperated King Arthur fights a somewhat overconfident Black Knight. It’s not something to be spoiled, but seen.

As Arthur, comic Joe Pasquale is a revelation. I expected the squeaky innocent persona that made his name – a characterisation that would be ill-fitting for a frankly rubbish king who yet sees himself as a hero. Instead, Pasquale goes to the lower register, serving the script and showing there’s a lot more to him than daft gags and a dafter voice.

Okay, he’s not a great singer – his first few lyrics were a tad tough to make out – but he quickly warmed up and showed he can put a tune across, dance decently and project the warmth that saw him crowned King of the Jungle on I’m a Celebrity… But where he really shines is in his comic acting. Because he made his name as a solo comic, it’s a surprise to see how adept he is at leading a cast of more obvious all-rounders. Pasquale’s timing is sublime, perfectly pitched to milk the maximum from every gag, without ever unbalancing the ensemble.

comic chemistry

And he has real comic chemistry with Sarah Earnshaw’s comely, manic Lady of the Lake, whose titanic tonsils give Whatever Happened to my Part? and The Song That Goes Like This the necessary diva dizziness. The theatrical playfulness of these numbers makes them a treat for grizzled musical fans, but I can’t imagine anyone not grinning ear to ear during them.

Todd Carty as Patsy. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Todd Carty as Patsy. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Having previously impressed on a visit to the capital by Spamalot, Todd Carty reprises his turn as Arthur’s downtrodden aide Patsy. He was good then, and he’s got even better, revelling in leading the iconic Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Mind you, after all those years in EastEnders it must be lovely to get paid to make people smile.

The all-singing, all-dancing knights and ladies impress as they play numerous parts, from Python favourites the Knights Who Say Ni to Mary Berry and Ant & Dec. The patented Python barmy voices are present, along with the requisite silly walks and dancing that wouldn’t shame a Broadway baby.

I liked the lot of ’em, but Will Hawksworth merits a special mention for his turn as the not-so-brave Sir Robin, whose clever, insightful and just plain funny You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz is a highlight. Richard Kent is a hoot as Not Dead Fred and wannabe damsel in distress Prince Herbert, Richard Meek is decidedly dashing as Sir (Dennis) Galahad, Jamie Tyler is a swinging Sir Lancelot and, while Josh Wilmott makes a sturdy Sir Bedevere, I suspect he much prefers playing old crone Mrs Galahad.

The other artists are equally adept in their numerous roles, while Tony Castro’s band does wonders with the music of Idle and John Du Prez. I doubt they’re on the tour, but director Christopher Luscombe, choreographer Jenny Arnold and the entire production crew should know the touring team is doing them proud.

If you want cheering up on a dreary winter’s night – is it really March? – take a trip back in time to Camelot for a knight to remember.

And I promise, the jokes are better than that…

Running time: 2 hours (including interval)

Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA

Monday 16 – Saturday 21 March 2015
Monday – Saturday: 7.30 pm; Wednesday, Saturday matinees:  2.30 pm
Full details and tickets on the Playhouse website:

Spamalot on tour:
16 – 21 March 2015 Edinburgh
0844 871 3014 Book online
30 March – 4 April 2015 Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
6 – 10 April 2015 Southampton
The Mayflower
 02380 711 811 Book online
13 – 18 April 2015 Aylesbury
Waterside Theatre
08448 717 627 Book online
20 – 25 April 2015 Bromley
Churchill Theatre
08448 717 620 Book online
27 April – 2 May 2015 Southend-on-Sea
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135 Book online
11 – 16 May 2015 Liverpool
Liverpool Empire Theatre
08448 713 017 Book online
18 – 23 May 2015 Sunderland
Sunderland Empire
0844 871 3022 Book online
1 – 6 June 2015 Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
8 – 13 June 2015 Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
15 June 2015 – 20 June 2015 Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Theatre
0844 871 7652 Book online
22 June 2015 – 27 June 2015 Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555 Book online


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