Review: Spamalot at New Wimbledon Theatre

Cowardly knights, invisible horses and a ferocious bunny rabbit provided the essential ingredients for Monty Python’s endearing musical at New Wimbledon Theatre on Wednesday.

Spamalot is a musical that, like the members of the comedy group who inspired it, doesn’t take itself too seriously.

This show relies heavily on a forgiving audience to punctuate its zingers with frequent outbursts of laughter. For it to succeed, Spamalot must get the crowd on-side.

At New Wimbledon Theatre last night, it achieved just that. Right from the outset, the audience were on-board with every joke and witty remark.

In Selladoor Worldwide’s latest touring production of the show, it is sometimes hard to disentangle jovial improvisation from the original script. For this reason, it stays true to the core of what Monty Python is all about.

The scintillating production brings together topical references to produce a playfully self-referential show which demolishes the fourth wall, leaving the crowd grinning from ear-to-ear.

Each location on Spamalot’s UK tour sees the routine adapted. Without giving too much away, some recognisable references from Wimbledon’s popular culture added to last night’s entertainment.

Regardless of whether you are a Monty Python fan, Selladoor’s extraordinaire is bound to have you stitches. Indeed, a prior knowledge of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is far from essential. The witty quips and timeless tunes in this enduring show are easily grasped by all.

Those Python purists, though, will be pleased to see on-stage manifestations of their favourite scenes and characters.

From the notorious knights who say ‘Ni’ to the classic ‘bring out your dead’ sketch, this production has it all.

The pace of the performance was heightened in the second half of the show, spearheaded by the cast’s tangible sense of camaraderie, but perhaps most notably by that of King Arthur (Bob Harms) and his man-servant Patsy (Rhys Owen).

Harms delivered a solid performance. He produced something of blend between Graham Chapman and John Cleese in the Python films, and he maintained strong vocals throughout.

Owen, the supporting lead, worked the audience well – especially during King Arthur’s rendition of ‘I’m All Alone’, in which the king suffers something of an existential crisis, believing himself to be ‘all alone’, despite having trusty Pasty by his side. During the song, Owen’s forlorn facial expressions were enough to get plenty of chuckles.

Often indignant and over-the-top, the Lady of the Lake (Sarah Harlington) sang with striking and somewhat tongue-in-cheek prowess. Stylistically, she demonstrated her versatility and ability to span genres. Her deep, Christina Aguilera vocals were impressive, if a tad overplayed.

A nod to the show’s excellent choreographer (Ashley Nottingham) must also be made for putting together some truly hilarious routines.

On the whole, Spamalot comes across as a parody of Lloyd Webber-style musicals. It knows what it is. And it revels in it.

The musical’s satirical sentiment peaks with the playful number: ‘The Song That Goes Like This’.

Of course, it’s not for everyone. But for those willing to embrace self-aware satire, it works perfectly.

The audience at New Wimbledon Theatre were certainly entertained – the curtain call was met with resounding applause and a standing ovation.

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table feature in Monty Python’s much-loved musical: Spamalot – lovingly – ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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