Until Sat Nov 2
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Wed Nov 21 2012
Current cast includes Robin Armstrong as Arthur and Sarah Earnshaw as the Lady of the Lake
After much initial hype, Eric Idle's Monty Python musical clip-clopped out of town in 2009 on a note of faint anti-climax. But general consensus is that 'Spamalot' was renewed on its lengthy UK tour, slimming down, sharpening up and wisely losing one baffling song about Broadway audiences.
This lithe show impressed critics at the Harold Pinter Theatre over the summer; now it's back for the long haul. But with the second honeymoon over, I can't help but think that 'Spamalot' again proves itself to be merely decent.
Hearteningly for a musical, it's the songs that work best: the original Python numbers ('Camelot', 'Brave Sir Robin', a slightly gratuitous 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life') are all giddily mad and entirely delightful, while the Andrew Lloyd Webber-spoofing 'new' ditties 'The Song that Goes Like This' and 'The Diva's Lament' are a real hoot.
But 'Spamalot' still falls between two stools: for much of its length it is content to merely pay cosy scene-for-scene tribute to the brilliant 1975 film 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', but somewhere around the middle it suddenly decides to become a satirical musical about putting on a musical. The two strands never feel entirely comfortable with each other.
Current star Stephen Tompkinson might have held it all together with a more forceful performance, but while his louche King Arthur is endearing, he tends to look like an amused spectator rather than a leading man, and he corpses something rotten. The rest of the cast look the part, and Anna-Jane Casey brings a phenomenal set of pipes as the Lady of the Lake, but there's no sense of Pythonic anarchy in this pleasant night out.
Theatre. West End. Musicals
- £20-£75. Runs 2hrs.
Playhouse Theatre Northumberland Avenue
Charing Cross (station)