A show like Spamalot offers a nostalgia filled trip through the catalogue of classic Monty Python. It can be a difficult one to pull off, riding the line between homage and parody is not an easy balance to get right, but Prima Org found the balance and hit it out of the park.
Director Miranda Selwood demonstrated a clear, concise knowledge of her source material, bringing it effectively to bear on the production. Selwood played many of the moments in this show with such coy accuracy, giving her lead cast trusted license to work the crowd so that the audience were in stitches during much of the show.
Tying securely in with Danika Saal’s tight musical direction, and wonderful sounding orchestra, Selwood builds a solid foundation for the talented ensemble to walk on.
Rounding out the production team is the choreography by Aurelie Roque. Roque’s stylish, fun, and lively choreography was the subject of some opening night nerves from the cast and was perhaps not as tight as it could have been. It was however, delightful, and the ensemble poured their energy into it, clearly having as much fun as the audience throughout.
Spamalot was a show that was as good to look at as it was funny, with a huge costume and prop team going to work to make gorgeous costumes for the tirelessly working ensemble (who sometimes changed two or three times per song). It also featured a simple, but highly functional set design by Andrew ‘Panda’ Haden. If there were some small technical difficulties with the set (part of the castle may have come unstuck) the crew fixing it mid scene genuinely added to the hilarity of the show and stage manager Elinor King and her team are to be highly commended.
Leading the ensemble as spam-in-chief was Chris Kellet as King Arthur, whose comedic timing and improv skills genuinely stopped the show several times. Kellet’s work was side splittingly hilarious, he sang, danced and ad libbed across the stage for two hours, and led the cast like he was made for the role.
As Arthur’s foil, the coconut wielding, downtrodden, Patsy, Chris Cathcart was a gem. Of particular note is his work during ‘I’m All Alone’, which was especially good fun and his rendition of ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’ was a delight.
Heidi Enchelmaier is a powerhouse as The Lady of the Lake. Her ‘Diva’s Lament’ was show stopping, and her riffs during ‘The Song That Goes Like This (reprise)’ had the audience cheering, and whooping along with her. The role of The Lady calls for someone who can own the stage as a full tilt diva, and push the show along, maintaining a very high energy. Enchelmaier eats the role for breakfast, leaving no doubt who the real power behind the crown is.
Filling out the rest of the round table are the knights Sir Robin (Ash Simpson), Sir Bedevere (Luke O’Hagan), Sir Dennis Galahad (Philip Fitzjohn), and last but certainly not least Sir Lancelot (Nathaniel Currie). These four worked up a storm, playing a myriad of different characters, working their way through accents, limbs, and homicidal “monsters.” Special mention does have to go to Currie’s performance, not just for his stilt walking, but also for so boldly wearing “that” outfit.
Likewise, the chorus worked their guts out, singing and dancing and throwing themselves through character and costume changes at a dizzying pace. For such a small chorus, they are rarely given a break, but ably lift the energy each time they are onstage.
Spamalot is a wonderful production, and the cast and crew have clearly given it their all to bring a faithful, and hilarious version of the show to stage. It plays at the Redcliffe Cultural Centre until the 8th of October 2017. Get along and see it!