by John Lombard
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT - Canberra Theatre
Reviewed 27 February, on until 1 March
In Spamalot, the legendary Round Table of King Arthur’s court is a circus podium for knights who have swapped jousting for prancing in an anarchic “mordant d’arthur”.
This Tony-winning musical is a mishmash of the best bits of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, from the inscrutable Knights Who Say “Ni!” to the fearsome Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, with a dash of African swallows for spice.
Here stout-hearted King Arthur (Cramer Cain) gathers his legendary knights, and after a lecture from an exasperated divinity embarks on an epic quest for the Cup of Christ.
Spamalot is a fusion of book writer Eric Idle’s hearty cynicism and John Du Prez’s bouncy and catchy tunes. Even a plague victim that is “Not Dead Yet” can “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”.
Director Richard Carroll fashions a boisterous production of irrepressible verve, firing off jokes like well-aimed arrows.
Cramer Crain’s Arthur is a perfect mix of humble and pompous, a man that is not above giving his pronouncements gravitas by being his own echo. Abe Mitchell is delightful as an amoral and thuggish Lancelot, Blake Appleqvist is hilarious as a priggish Galahad, and Amy Hack wins the heart of the audience as Arthur’s forlorn servant, the long-suffering Patsy. Josie Lane’s Lady of the Lake provides a wonderful parody of the egomaniac starlet.
The play loses momentum in the second half when the grail quest splits into individual predicaments for the knights, but the joyful mayhem never diminishes. Jokes like Arthur handing the reins of his imaginary horse to a befuddled audience member only became more satisfying when they were mischievously repeated.
Spamalot has something for everyone, whether it’s a ruthless satire of English chivalry, that song that goes like that, or just a slap with a wet fish.