Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Did London Critics Always Look On The Bright Side Of Spamalot?

Did London Critics Always Look On The Bright Side Of Spamalot?

The West End production of Monty Python's Spamalot officially opened last evening, but that didn't stop critics from posting early reviews. So did they enjoy the musical version of the 1970s motion picture comedy? Mostly.

Perhaps the lead enthusiast is the Telegraph's Charles Spencer: "There has never been a sillier musical than this, or one more calculated to appeal to the British sense of humour. Already a hit on Broadway there is a genuine sense that the show has come home with its arrival at the Palace....It’s a wonderful night, and I fart in the general direction of anyone who says otherwise."

Paul Taylor of The Independent also gushes, saying the tuner: "...has just given me the most deliriously silly and loopily enjoyable evening in a theatre since Dame Edna was last in town. Yes, it leaves you that high and weak with laughter, thanks not just to the Python provenance of the basic material but to the phenomenal speed, wit, cheek and showbiz knowingness of the direction, which is by the great veteran, Mike Nichols."

Noting how hard the show is to resist as he awarded four out of five stars, Benedict Nightingale of The Times referred to himself in the third person: "[T]hough slicker and maybe blander, kept him (Nightingale) in infantile bliss from the moment Tim Curry’s gloriously plummy, blimpish Arthur trotted onstage with a serf making horse-noises with coconut shells....Silly? Very. Funny? You bet."

Over at Variety, another Benedict -- David Benedict -- said that the show looks likely to succeed, but cautions: "London critics have a habit of looking at the West End openings of Broadway triumphs and pronouncing them DOA. Yet if the initial, fairly ecstatic British reviews are anything to go by, Spamalot looks set to buck the trend, possibly because the Monty Python phenomenon -- a sharp-flavored mix of satire, sarcasm and silliness -- remains so abidingly British. Yet for all its buoyancy somewhere on the journey across the Atlantic, some of the air has escaped from the balloon."

In offering up 3 stars out of 5 along with a concession that "the show has its moments," The Guardian's Michael Billington says, "[W]hile it passes the time pleasantly enough, it will do nothing to satisfy those who crave the spice of novelty on their night out....With hand on heart, I'd much rather watch (Alan Jay) Lerner and (Frederick) Loewe's Camelot than Eric Idle's smart-arsed Spamalot."

Despite the naysaying (or is that "ni"-saying?!) of a couple critics, it looks like Monty Python's Spamalot can look forward to a long West End reign.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
West End Spamalot Finds Its Grail Tonight (October 17, 2006)

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