Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Spamalot Congress Theatre Eastbourne

Congress Theatre
22-26 March 2011

Show seen 23 March


King Arthur - Phil Jupitus
Patsy - Todd Carty
The Lady Of The Lake - Jessica Martin
Robin Armstrong
Samuel Holmes
David Langham
Simon Lipkin
Graham MacDuff
Eric Idle (video)
Philip Catchpole
Rachel Knowles
Kit Orton
Amy Papa
Tim Bonser
Paul Bullion
Persephone Fitzpatrick

Well I think most people must be aware that this is the musical version of Monty Python and The Holy Grail? Monty Python was a controversial TV series you either loved or loathed. It was screened by the BBC from 1969 to 1974 and has resulted in spin offs such as the 'Holy Grail' and 'Life of Brian' movies, books and even this tour!

Only 500 or so people in the Eastbourne audience for this performance. But I don't think that has much to do with the shows quality but more with Eastbourne's demographics. Put it this way I can't see many of Eastbourne's more devout elderly churchgoers going along to pay homage to Eric Idle!

Phil Jupitus supports GOSH in Eastbourne
However if, like me, you're an atheist or despite being religious you are equipped with a good sense of humour then this is a great show just to have a bloody good laugh. I even suspect that many in the audience were a bit like my wife - going along to keep the other half happy and swearing they wouldn't like it.

I think it's always a good thing if a show can get an "I enjoyed that" comment from somebody who swears they are going to hate every minute! This production managed it though.

'Holy Grail' is certainly not the most controversial God-mocking tale that could be told on stage. 'Life of Brian' is far more likely to cause offence. Personally I'd love to see this happen. Thanks to being the victim of a car-keying pastor together with his strange beliefs including that council flower beds are God's provision for people who can't afford florists (he was the final cause of my non-belief) I'm always up for a bit of religious humour.

In this production we have King Arthur in his hilarious search from the 'Holy Grail'. The Spamalot tour has four well known personalities covering the role and Eastbourne was rewarded with comedian Phil Jupitus.

I have to be honest I don't watch a lot of telly and I wasn't too familiar with Jupitus but I thought he was excellent as the monarch as he trekked from country to country in search of his quest.

Todd Carty supports GOSH in Eastbourne
Most of his time on stage he is accompanied by former Eastenders and Dancing On Ice star Todd Carty. Carty couldn't be any better in playing the ruler's assistant Patsy. With quite possibly the funniest role in the whole show everything about Patsy raises a laugh. The script, the facial expressions and of course those unforgettable coconuts! Whilst he may be touring with 4 different Arthurs and 3 ladies of the lake Todd is more than happy to be undertaking the whole tour. He has been quoted as saying this is his favourite role since he played 'Tucker Jenkins' in Grange Hill.

Todd also gets the privilege of singing the key track "Always look on the bright side of life" and a key Patsy moment has to be his hysterical performance during  the company's delivery of "I'm all alone".

The multi talented Jessica Martin plays King Arthur's love interest, The Lady Of The Lake. This actress, comedienne and former Spitting image impressionist is great and 'The song that goes like this' and its reprise has to be one of her highlights.

Jessica Martin supports GOSH in Eastbourne
Those may be the 'stars' but let's not forget the others who all contribute to make this a great show. Samuel Holmes, David Langham, Simon Lipkin and Graham MacDuff are all perfectly suited to their respective roles and very, very funny.

The set is simple, yet colourful and functional as the castle gateway represents the entrance to many different locations in the story.

The orchestra is located behind the set (sometimes visible, sometimes not). This always helps with all lyrics being able to be heard clearly in the auditorium.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that Spamalot is the greatest musical of all time but it is a really good excuse to forget any troubles you may have and to go and have a really good laugh which is what we had in Eastbourne.

With a cast as good as this one was I'd gladly enjoy this tale again including those wonderful Knights who say 'Ni!' and their desire for a 'shwubbery' together with all the other historical nonsense.

Incidentally all 3 of the main stars kindly did a Great Ormond Street Hospital charity signing for me - for further details click any picture above and view the details on the appropriate image in my GOSH gallery. You may wish to bid on some quite unique items to support this worthy cause.
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