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Spamalot

It's a pantomime. There. Glad to get that out the way.


I should also say it’s a revival, meaning that people stopped going six years ago, but they’ve dusted off the shrubbery and decided to give it another go. After a slow start (the first two songs feel like a warm up for the cast as much as the audience) something begins to tip over from almost embarrassed titter to wry smiling. You start to tap along to middling songs and rhyming schemes that would shame Rebecca Black. What's the plot? Lord only knows. It's a glorious shambles with all the usual audience interaction, and singalongs using big boards dropped from the top of the stage. It only just stops shy of Sir Robin throwing sweets to the stalls. It doesn’t even really pretend to have a plot for the second act either, just an increasingly silly way to crow-bar in the next song. But that’s fine. Just let the sequins, high-kicks, cast and set pieces entertain you.

Anna-Jane Casey is ready to steal the whole show from the moment she’s on. She plays the Lady of the Lake, a camp Vegas girl in a glittery Camelot. It is with her arrival that the show really kicks off with two game-changing songs. For the lead, you have Stephen Thompkinson (also known as "Him off that Sunday night animal show") gamely kicking and warbling through with considerable comic ability. He's very charismatic, you know, and doesn't look bad in a crown either. We even started wondering if we'd lower our drawbridge for him and climb his maiden tower. It’s true.

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life gets an airing, for no other reason than Spamalot play-write Eric Idle wrote it, and that it passes another five minutes. There’s also a great song about how hard it is to produce a West End show unless you got Susan Boyle centre stage, keeping the revival freshly bitchy. There’s even a coming out story, which is… well, not exactly cutting edge. Camp young man seduces butch man using the power of disco? We’ve all been there, but still, even Hollyoaks is does coming out better than that.
Spamalot is certainly more entertaining than its component parts, and considerably spiced up by its talented cast. You will never escape that end-of-school panto vibe but it’s good fun nonetheless. Especially at this time of year, if you’re tired of traditional pantos. Just don’t go on too much of a quest to see it.
 
theatrepeople.com/shows/spamalot
 
Words:Lee Binding

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