smART x Stratford Pt.2: Monty Python’s Spamalot
An absurdly funny, absurdly fun, tsunami of laughs
WORDS BY BRONTE CRONSBERRY | BUFFALO | VISUAL ARTS
JUN 22, 2023 | ISSUE 12
Maria Jenson by Ella Mazur
MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT
DIRECTED BY LEZLIE WADE
MAY 31 – OCTOBER 28
From left A. MacPherson, J. Sermonia, J. Goad, M. Knucle and D. M. Brown in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by D. Hou
The Stratford Production of Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s musical, Spamalot, “lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail is absurdly funny and absurdly fun. Director Lezlie Wade crafts a tsunami of song, dance, and iconic sketch comedy that is nothing but two hours of wild entertainment and belly laughs.
Eric Idle, an original member of the legendary British sketch comedy troupe Monty Python, weaves clever song and dance parodies through much of the original material of the 1975 original movie. Though secondary to the sketch comedy, the plot follows King Arthur as he gathers honourable men to become his Knights of the Round Table in his quest to find the Holy Grail.
All the iconic sketches from the film are still there: audiences are reintroduced to the Knights who say NI!: the Knight who won’t accept he’s lost the duel despite losing all four limbs (It’s just a scratch! Come on now! Fight me!); the cute but murderous Rabbit guarding the Holy Grail; the peasants who refuse to bow to their king but rather remain part of their democratic collective; the plague-inflicted villagers who are “Not dead yet,”; and, of course, the French soldier who farts in Arthur’s general direction.
Members of the Company in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by D. Hou
In addition to these sketches, the musical includes some of the best meta-theatrical musical theatre parodies of all time. “The Song that Goes Like This” makes fun of romantic ballads; “Knights of the Round Table” takes the song-and-dance production number to absurd lengths of high-energy musical theatre performance; and ”Find Your Grail” spoofs inspirational songs like “Climb Every Mountain” or “Tomorrow.”
Wade’s direction ensures that the material itself shines. There is no need for a directorial intervention for this stuff. After all, these sketches continue to make people laugh almost fifty years after first aired, garnering attention from each successive generation.