Spamalot: Review Roundup

Todd Carty, Marcus Brigstocke, and
Bonnie Langford

The London revival of the 2005 musical Spamalot opened last week at the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End to lukewarm reviews. For the record, the creative team includes Eric Idle (book, lyrics, music), John DuPrez (music), Christopher Luscombe (direction), Jenny Arnold (choreography), Hugh Durrant (production design), Nick Richings (lights), Terry Jardine (sound), and Tony Castro (music direction). The cast includes Marcus Brigstocke (King Arthur), Bonnie Langford (Lady of the Lake), Robin Armstrong (Bedevere), Robert Delaney (Robin), Adam Ellis (Herbert), Kit Ortoni (Lancelot), and Jon Robyns (Galahad).

Kieran Corcoran (What’s On Stage): Although it left much of the audience unscathed, a ghostly suggestion seems to haunt Spamalot, which returns to the West End after a three-year absence: perhaps Eric Idle’s acclaimed and award-winning “lovingly ripped off” Python musical just isn’t that funny anymore. … A peek at what a properly irreverent and fun musical might look like appears in the latter half, in the form of “You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz.” … On the downside, it has almost nothing to do with the rest of the narrative, to which the show slumps back for an unmemorable finale. I was excited about the return of Spamalot; it could have sounded a clarion call for kooky Britishness … but last night was more of a fart in my general direction. 2 stars.

Simon Edge (Express): I remain bemused that this proudly low-brow show, reliant on naughty words, silly names and putting grown men in frocks, was seen as the height of sophistication on Broadway where it swept the board at the Tony awards. With its one-joke songs that point up the flimsiness of the writing … and its colourful sets, it looks like a nicely made, heartily danced panto arriving in the wrong season.

Quentin Letts (Daily Mail): 3 out of 5 stars. Perhaps the funniest thing about the Monty Python comedy Spamalot, which has just been relaunched in the West End, is that it is now showing at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Morose old Harold playing host to the “knights who say ni”! This Camelot spoof is good fun, provided you are a Python person.  Some people find this sort of humour unbearable but I enjoy the silliness of sketches. … The one dud performance comes from Marcus Brigstocke as King Arthur. He can’t sing, walks woodenly and looks wildly self-conscious. Lord knows why they cast him. He is sharing the role with Jon Culshaw, who can only be better.

Jamie Tabberer (Entertainment Focus): 3 out of 5 stars. Not a Monty Python fan? I don’t blame you. But having seen with a totally open mind this revival … I must confess I did quite enjoy parts of it. But perhaps that says it all. … Countless reality TV and London 2012 references, plus a smorgasbord of effortlessly hilarious jokes made at Boris Johnson’s expense, are plonked in every few minutes. The result is funny, but it’s not quite the annoying, impenetrable sort of funny that Monty Python’s known and adored for. … The stagecraft and costumery is cheap and cartoonish, the cast’s combined singing ability pedestrian at best. Of course there’s charm to speak of therefore, akin to a regional pantomime or a ropey secondary school production.

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