Theatre review: Spamalot (Twin Productions, Town Hall)

A scene from the film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which former Python Eric Idle used ass the basis for the Spamalot musical.

A scene from the film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which former Python Eric Idle used ass the basis for the Spamalot musical.

SEAN AND Brian Powers’ Twin Productions brought a feast of Monty Python-inspired laughter, zaniness, and song to the Town Hall Theatre last week with their lively staging of Broadway smash Spamalot - the musical’s first Irish production.

Spamalot was co-written by ex-Python Eric Idle and John Du Prez, and is wittily adapted from the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with extra nuggets from the Python canon, plus some inspired Broadway musical spoofs.

There were plenty of Grail and Python fans in the audience judging by the volleys of appreciative laughter that greeted familiar scenes, lines and passages of dialogue throughout the show. Much fun was had revisiting the travails of King Arthur (Sean Hosty ), his coconut-clopping servant Patsy (Mervyn Fahy ), and motley knights including Lancelot (Today FM’s Fergal D’Arcy ), Galahad (Niall Conway ), the cowardly Sir Robin (Nicky Lawless ) and Bedevere (Marc O’Connor ). There was also a terrific performance from Katie Creaven, especially in her singing, as the seductive Lady of the Lake, while Karl O’Doherty sounded almost Cleese-ian as the narrator Historian.

Surrounded by castellated ramparts and battlements, the story’s madcap mix of sieges, duels and quests was enacted with much comic brio and included such Pythonesque ingredients as projectile cows and man-killing rabbits. As musicals go, Spamalot is no West Side Story as regards narrative arcs or character development, but that does not really matter given the gleeful energy with which it “lovingly rips off" - to quote its own strapline – the original movie.

One of the surprise pleasures of the show was the occasional original song, notably ‘The Song That Goes Like This’ (a skit of Andrew Lloyd Webber power ballads ) and ‘The Diva’s Lament’ in which Katie Creaven’s Lady of the Lake hilariously bemoaned her absence from the story’s progress. The show also included that peerless Python anthem, ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’, which I dare say even Sondheim would have been proud to have penned. Along with the songs there were plenty of zesty dance routines to add to the merriment.

It was all very good craic indeed and credit to everyone involved; directors Sean and Brian Power, their 30-strong cast of performers, musical director John O’Dea, conductor Megan Lohan, and musicians. Bualadh bos.

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