‘Spamalot’ was frisky.
Theatre is a wild and wonderful thing. In what other life situation would you encounter plastic fish, bedazzled jockstraps, otherworldly creatures, confused knights, severed limbs, ‘un-dead’ peasants, cheerleaders and man-eating rabbits on your weekend evening! Monty Python’s ‘Spamalot’ accepts and capitalises on the absurdity of the theatrical space, humorously making a mockery of the general hilarity that is musical theatre.
Spamalot’s opening night crowd raucously laughed and clapped along to the performance, filling the beautiful heritage-listed theatre with joy and applause. Every moment is so bizarre that audiences quickly accepted that ‘Spamalot’ was not going to be a kosher night at the theatre, and that is where the fun begins!
‘Spamalot’ follows a gloriously big-headed ‘King’ Arthur (Alexander Thanasoulis) in his quest to become the ruler of the land. Followed by a band of misfit knights, Arthur encounters a host of villains, blockades and of course a love interest as he fumbles through the kingdom in search of the Holy Grail (as seen in the Monty Python film version) and to ultimately ascend to power!
Every single element of this production supported and aided the absurdity that is ‘Monty Python’s Spamalot’. From the flawless comedic timing of the primary actors to the skillfully (and equally hilarious) songs, this production is sure to be an absolute hit with Brisbane Audiences!
Musical Director, Julie Whiting, should be congratulated on leading a score which traverses almost every musical style known to man. In a show where vocal parts could easily fall to the wayside, harmonies were consistently strong and the versatile cast was able to easily swap between jazz, swing, choral works, classic musical theatre and back again.
Vocal highlights came from the skilful Laura Fois as The Lady of the Lake who handled the incredibly demanding score with finesse and enough sass to fill the theatre. It was unfortunate that some notes peaked through the sound system and diminished the lower tones in Fois voice. Other musical highlights came from the incredible character work of Christopher Batkin who parades through the show as a range of characters, each equally as hilarious as the last. Batkin was able to display the range in his voice throughout the production and was an exemplary storyteller through every facet of his being.
Set design by Tim Pierce was visually engaging and maximised the space available on stage. A large castle ran from stage left to right with a platform on the top level which provided excellent visual interest throughout the production. Another set-piece, wonderfully and sparingly executed by director Alex Lanham, was a set of three screens, two on the proscenium stage left and right and then another hanging centre stage on the primary structure. These were used to present pre-recorded dialogue throughout the production. For example, as Arthur approaches the castle walls, he has a conversation with one of the guards on the towers. By placing the guard within the television screen, Alexander Thanasoulis was able to easily interact with the character without upstaging himself. Another effective use of the centre stage screen was the presentation of god in the clouds that ethereally hovered in the screen. While these elements had the potential to be clunky and onerous, the execution was perfect and aided to the intentionally haphazard nature of the production.
Choreography by Michelle Radu and Stephanie O’Shea was humorous and perfectly fit the skill levels of the cast. Each dance sequence had wonderful energy and provided each character with their own opportunity for comedic input. Camille Warfield was a standout amongst the Laker Girls, with beautiful lines and a forever engaged face, your eye was drawn to her whenever she was on stage. Mention also goes to Danielle Clubb who’s facial expressions lit up the stage. Every time you glanced at Clubb she was fully engaged in the narrative playing out. Jordan Boyd should also be commended for stepping into the role of Laker Girl in lieu of a cast injury. Boyd moved with finesse and skill while remaining engaged at all times.
Sound design by Jordan Boyd added an extra layer of hilarity to the production. The man of many faces, Matthew Nisbet, was supported in his excellent characterisation with microphone effects that threw his voice all over the theatre in all its reverb glory. It was this attention to detail and monopoly of comedic tools that made this production gel so seamlessly.
Costume Design by Erin Tribble was cohesive and supported the comedy of the show. Damien Campagnolo as Sir Lancelot gave the audience quite a shock when he stripped down to a bedazzled jockstrap for the ‘His Name is Lancelot’ number. Campagnolo’s casual yet sullen attitude as he embraced this moment was comedy gold and had the audience roaring.
The five knights (plus Oliver Catton as the ever-present Patsy) rounded the stellar cast out perfectly. Led by the hilarious Alexander Thanasoulis as King Arthur, the six gentlemen bounced off each other perfectly and presented fully formed and distinct characters.
Brisbane Arts Theatre’s ‘Spamalot’ is an experience to behold. For any Monty Python fans out there, you shall not be disappointed by the absurdity and hilarity that takes place on the Brisbane Arts Theatre stage. And for those who don’t know Monty Python, strap in because ‘Spamalot’ is everything you wouldn’t expect and more. Congratulations to the cast and production team for giving audiences the opportunity to forget the world and to simply laugh.
‘Spamalot’ plays at Brisbane Arts Theatre until Saturday, 18 January 2020, with a break over Christmas. Grab your tickets at the Brisbane Arts Theatre’s Website.