Last Saturday night, the three of us headed into Seattle (the Big City) to see Spamalot at the Paramount.
Spamalot, if you haven’t heard, is a broadway production (ie musical) that written by Python alum Eric Idle.
Now, I like a good musical as much as the next guy. Except for my friend George. And his friend Mike. And my wife. Come to think of it, most people like a good musical more than I do…
If you recognized who I’m blatantly ripping off there (though it’s not “The Final Rip Off“), then I’m not sure you’re going to be that excited about Spamalot. Because, it’s not “the Holy Grail goes to Broadway”, it’s “Eric Idle wraps a Broadway satire around a few grail-ish themes”.
The Python-ish stuff only shows up rarely. There was a discussion about the problems in obtaining coconuts that was handled quite well, and a particularly dreadful version of the “holy hand grenade“, in which Brother Maynard reads the entire chapter of the book of armanents without pausing for a breath, so you ended up with:
Which shows a huge failing in direction. For the scene to work, you need to feel that each sentence is the end of the instructions, so “Four” is a surprise, and “Five” a greater surprise.
I was impressed by the ease at which they reduced “farcical aquatic ceremony” – which I think is in the running for the funniest phrase ever – into a mildly amusing comment.
Overall, the cast just didn’t seem equipped to handle the pythonesque stuff, and just used it as filler between the musical numbers.
As for the musical part, well, that was okay. Idle re-purposed “Finland” and “Always look on the bright side of life”, and the other numbers are okay as broadway satire, but not especially noteworthy. And overall, I understand why the production is the way it is – he did a good job of tailoring it towards the kinds of audiences that go to Broadway shows.
Overall, if you like theater, you will probably like Spamalot. It was about what I expected, and not close to a re-enactment of the Hitchiker’s debacle.
As an aside, the sound wasn’t very good, especially for the female lead.