Norwich-based amateur group Threshold Theatre Company began a week long run of the comedy musical SPAMALOT at the Norwich Playhouse on Tuesday night.
First seen on Broadway in 2004, Spamalot is the brainchild of Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame. Adapted from the 1975 film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, this riotous musical follows a similar plot whilst incorporating a large number of very silly, but side splittingly funny song and dance numbers. This satire of Broadway musicals loosely follows King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail. The story behind each of his knights, and various other characters unfolds in ridiculous and highly unlikely ways.
King Arthur, played by Martin Rodwell, is the pivotal character around which the action plays out. Rodwell portrayed him confidently with just the right balance of regal presence and exasperation with his inept entourage. Playing opposite King Arthur was his faithful sidekick Patsy (Ian Chisholm), who was hilarious in his ‘asides’ and at times brought his scenes to life with just his facial expressions, particularly in their duet on ‘I’m All Alone’.
The Knights of the Round Table were superbly played by Sam Watkinson (Sir Lancelot), Alex Firth Clarke (Sir Galahad), Tom Guttridge (Sir Robin) and Matt Scantlebury (Sir Bedevere). These talented guys took the characters and made them their own, while showcasing a proper understanding of the Python’s humour. They provided many of the musical’s most riotously funny moments reflecting the talent and comedic timing of all four actors.
Also standing out were the performances by Nick Gordon as Not Dead Fred and Prince Herbert. With outrageous campness and cheeky behaviour, he effortlessly demonstrated natural stage presence and pure Python silliness.
A musical wouldn’t be complete without a lavish leading lady. In this case it was Holly Graham as the Lady of the Lake, playing the part with exaggerated diva-ness. She perfectly parodied Broadway leading ladies whilst also having very impressive vocals.
The choreography by Lisa Rowe, and musical direction by Joe Ringer, was very impressive and added much to the excitement of the show, whilst the performers’ array of dance skills was spectacular. Although the show was full of big, over-the-top song and dance numbers, worth a particular mention are the highly camp ‘His Name is Lancelot’ when Sir Lancelot realises his true nature, and Sir Robin’s big, bold ‘You Won’t Succeed On Broadway’.
The costume design was consistently impressive, courtesy of Martin Frost. From Knights to showgirls to corpses, the costumes perfectly embodied the characters, with a very impressive attention to detail.
This delightful production had everything that you would expect from a professional theatre company, showing the depth of talent within this far-from-amateur company. I have no doubt, from the standing ovation and often raucous laughter, that the audience thoroughly enjoyed what they saw and heard. A huge well done to all the cast members, and production team for entertaining the audience with a show which will appeal to newcomers of Monty Python silliness, and die-hard fans alike.