SPAMALOT : COMIC MAYHEM @ THE HAYES

SPAMALOT ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the 1975 film  Monty Python and the Holy Grail opened on Broadway in 2005, ran for 1,575 shows and grossed $175, 000,000 and winning 3 Tony awards. Strangely enough when the production came to Australia it flopped.

The Hayes Theatre Company has successfully breathed new life into the 2008 corpse with the hilarious reinvigoration of SPAMALOT. The spam in the title is not the internet scourge but is the registered trademark of a type of faux ham.

The play irreverently revives the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. That is the only similarity between this legend and Spamalot. Arthur is challenged by God to find the holy grail, a cup used by Jesus in the last Supper. King Arthur accepts the challenge, rounds up a band of silly knights and must face insulting and flatulent Frenchman, a killer rabbit, the Knights who say ‘Ni’, and a Black Knight who will not lay down and die, amongst other impediments, including the stupidity of  his Knights.

Once again, the Hayes stage is packed with young actors whose energy and enthusiasm washes over the audience in a delightful wave.

As a tribute to the film lyricist Eric Idle and music composer John Du Prez had six of the characters play multiple roles, a challenge for any musical production, ably met by the talented ensemble. Arthur is the only single role part.

The daft and gormless King Arthur is splendidly played by Cramer Cain, whose musicality and diction gave every musical number that he sang and the lines that he spoke its intended humorous impact.  

Josie Lane gives a magnificent, over the top performance as Lady of the Lake, Guinevere  who diva like must have musical solos in the show even if the plot, such as it is, doesn’t require one.! Nevertheless her imposition is most welcome as her vocal dexterity wrestling with silly lyrics in her lush soprano voice is quite wonderful.

The role of Patsy, King Arthur’s noble, coconut clopping horse is subtly under-played by Bishanyia Vincent as the only sane character in the cast.  

The rest of the cast is universally splendid but special mention must be made of Marty Alix as Sir Robin whose flexible body, vivid facial expressions and gestures tied with his musicality and dance skills makes him a very fetching Knight.

God makes a special ‘appearance’, voiced by a surprise guest.

The gender bending and multiple role playing of the versatile cact is capably transitioned by director Richard Carroll. As with his production  of Calamity Jane he creates joyous interactions with the audience.

The glorious harmonies as well as the entertaining solos are enhanced by  Musical Director Conrad Hamill.

Did I mention that  the show had dancing girls? They, as well as the cast were skilfully choreographed by Cameron Mitchell, masterfully negotiating the tiny Hayes stage and stairs.

Designer Emma Vince’s  curtains cleverly suggest the cartoon  animations by one of the original Monty Python team, Terry Gilliam.

As the stage was configured with seats configured in an unusual fashion, there was ] a bit of seating on either side of the stage, which in the cramped space made lighting the constantly moving  actors difficult to illuminate. Lighting designer Kate Sfetkidis managed these hurdles skilfully,.

The Hayes Theatre does an impressive job of reviving neglected or forgotten musicals. In SPAMALOT it has brought forth a glorious, hilarious and very silly production much needed in  these dark times. One left the theatre with the sustained laughter of the audience ringing in one’s ears.

SPAMALOT opened at the Hayes Theatre on Tuesday 12th March, 2019

 

 

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