Saturday, September 23, 2023

Monty Python’s Spamalot. Directed by Jarrad West. FreeRain Theatre. The Q theatre, Queanbeyan. To Sept 24.


Monty Python fans will love this one. King Arthur (Michael Jordan) and the Knights of the Round Table gallop, with the aid of coconut shells and Arthur’s much put upon sidekick Patsy (Darcy Kinsella), through a quest to find The Holy Grail. If you are a fan of the film you’ll know the scenes and dialogue backwards.

 This is an energetic production that clearly knows the territory but doesn’t always grab it with the necessary gravitas. There’s a certain amount of trying too hard at times and at others it’s about assuming the audience will get it because they know it.

 And mostly the audience does, because they know all the routines, and a great time is had, as the cast and crew battle to convey castles and shrubberies and an appearance by the Almighty and dementedly violent rabbits. Arthur is an exasperated conservative and his knights are various types of eccentrics.

 The historical aspects are taken care of by an enthusiastic Historian (Meaghan Stewart) who pops up decreasingly to attempt historical placement. The on stage audience is dragged into the action. Meanwhile the Lady of the Lake (a very busy and wonderfully bored Hannah Lance) rightly feels neglected but sings a lot about how the plot is sidelining her. Which it is, being a very blokey set up.

 Arthur cobbles together a Round Table of not very bright knights. Brave Sir Robin (Grayson Woodham) isn’t brave, Galahad (Dave Collins) and Bedevere (Rylan Howard) fail to live up to Sir Thomas Malory’s reports of them and Lancelot (Kristofer Patson-Gill) commits a slew of murders in his misguided attempt to rescue the somewhat fey Herbert (James Morgan) from an unwanted marriage.

 All the set pieces surface …the old plague victim bloke who doesn’t want to go on the cart (Meaghan Stewart), the Historian who tries to give a serious perspective (Stewart)…the taunting of the French (Stewart), the Minstrel’s ballad about brave Sir Robin sung by Stewart, the violence of the rabbit (abetted by Stewart as Tim the Wizard)… if you know the film you know the territory… Stewart clearly loves being this busy.

 The splendid dancing (choreography by Michelle Heine) is almost the most spectacular thing about the show which is mostly done on a bare stage. Fiona Leach’s costumes are spectacular too.

 Upstage Ian McLean doggedly drives the orchestra through its expert paces and survives a few involvements in the action as he makes sure the music is super and the play out at the end of the show is a real pleasure to remain in your seat for.

 But it would all go up a few notches if it was a little less self indulgent. And turn the sound down. We know the words.

                                              Reviewed by ALANNA  MACLEAN

                                                    Image by Janelle McMenamin