“Lovingly ripped off” from thePython’s 1975 cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it’s thetale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest to findthe revered relic. Original Python member Eric Idle has taken the core of thescreenplay and added songs (with John Du Prez) as well as bits of other Pythonbusiness to come up with a full-fledged Broadway musical. Needless to say, itdoesn’t hurt to be familiar with the comedy troupe’s repertoire.
King Arthur (Jarion Monroe) and hisfaithful servant Patsy (Bryan Munar) are scouring the English countryside formen to join the Court at Camelot. After gathering the likes of Robin (PhillipPercy Williams), Lancelot (Ariel Zuckerman), Galahad (Michael McDonald), andBedevere (Nathan Townsend Levy), they’re off on their quest. Their journey willtake them to a castle oddly manned by French soldiers and through a very expensiveforest. Along the way they’ll encounter the Lady of the Lake (Susan Zelinsky),the Knights Who Say Ni, an argumentative Black Knight, a damsel in distress(Joseph Patrick O’Malley) and a killer rabbit before their quest is (somewhat)completed.
Python humor runs the gamut from socio-politicalsatire to outrageous slapstick. Some of it holds up after 40-plus years, someof it doesn’t. Drag has always been a component of British humor, but theevolution of that performance style has made it as archaic as pie throwing as asource of humor.
Director Robert Currier, who alongwith music director Paul Smith and choreographer Rick Wallace considerthemselves long-time fans of the comedy troupe, has gathered a game cast toexecute the tomfoolery. Many of them essay several roles, with Monroe’s Arthurat the center as more-or-less the show’s straight man forced to deal with thesilliness surrounding him. They’re all good, with O’Malley doing yeoman’s workin three very different roles – the Historian, Not Dead Fred, and PrinceHerbert. Zelinksy is delightful as the Lady in the Lake and gets one of theshow’s best musical numbers with “The Diva’s Lament”.
The timing and choreography could becrisper in several scenes and sound issues plagued the performance I attended,but if you’re on a quest for laughs, seek out Spamalot.
‘MontyPython’s Spamalot’ runs through August 25 in the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre atDominican University in San Rafael. Thursday through Saturday eveningperformances are at 8 pm; the Sunday matinee is at 4 pm.
Formore information, go to marinshakespeare.org.