Spamalot Edinburgh Playhouse

As it says in the publicity “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail” you can bet that the next line is not “And Now for Something Completely Different”. For this is vintage Python humour, with just a few topical references thrown in (Scott Brown’s recent night on the town gets a mention).

Add some memorable songs, clever and witty choreography, imaginative use of the set, and an extremely talented cast who work their socks off playing multiple parts and display finely-tuned comic timing, and we have a night at the theatre of unparalleled hilarity.

The plot, such as it is, concerns King Arthur mustering his Knights of the Round Table to search for the Holy Grail, a task given to him by God, or Michael Palin as most television viewers know him. This quest finds them up against killer bunnies, flying cows, haughty French people, the Black Knight (sneering “it’s only a scratch” when Arthur lops off one of his arms) and of course the Knights Who Say Ni, these last diverting Arthur and Patsy on a search for a shrubbery before they will allow them safe passage through the forest.

Interspersed with this are discussions on the migratory abilities of coconuts, how no-one has the right to be king “just because some watery tart threw a sword at him” and a Fisch Schlapping Song – none of this moves the story forward, but all of it adds to the evening’s entertainment.

Everyone concerned with this production deserves full marks, I just don’t see how it could have been bettered. But I have to single out Joe Pasquale as King Arthur and Sarah Earnshaw as the Lady of the Lake, both possessed of exceptional timing, and the latter’s powerful but controlled singing the best I’ve heard in a theatre production in a long time.

All in all, it’s top quality entertainment, although when you have Joe Pasquale saying “stop it, this is all getting too silly”, you know the silliness bar has been set very high indeed.

So, all together now: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”…

Jim Welsh