Ethan Switch - Tuesday, 18 January 2011
God is Eric Idle. Or the voice of. Or at least the recording is what introduces the show and hushes those in the audience with fingers on their mobiles and loud lolly wrappers. Prep them glands of saliva, for the two hours ahead is a dry and salty territory of humour and the chin gallery.
The tone drops a hint and the historian (Thomas Demarcus) lays out the intro with a sketchy recall of English grounds. The trail of back matter partially sods the night and a little bit of the "Fisch Schlapping Song" starts things off nicely and in the wrong direction before the detour reroutes from Finland to England proper. As proper as a farce will allow.
British from the loins, the audience skewer dresses up the overall angle toward American references and stylings. Camelot is now some kind of ritzy jaunt of a Las Vegas setting with The Lady of the Lake as its diva host with backup from The Laker Girls. The Knights who say Ni also adapting their "Ecky Ecky Ecky F'tang F'tang Olé Biscuitbarrel" name change game to include the local flavour. In tonight's case, "C-A-T-S."
Spamalot spines the musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("lovingly ripped off from the motion picture itself") with an elevated metatextuality as it references its own timeline, being and construction.
The fourth wall is in pieces with a wry smile and typical British humour of an arid landscape standing over the scaffolding. Smoothly does it for the self-aware and none too concerned smell about the running and nature of stage musicals as a type of fare.
In Another Part of the Very Expensive Forest of the second act, the entire concept of the musical around a musical of a film snakes itself with "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" and once again nods right into the audience with more than a knowing look and anachronistic flair.
In Act I, the first gong of "The Song That Goes Like This" between Sir Galahad (Jacob L. Smith) and The Lady of the Lake (Caroline Bowman) further hammers home the point of a musical living inside a musical. The spoof adapts well to a few more situations, but tends to lean too often on its own support when done for another rung.
The insert of Bin Faarkrekkion's new Moosical, Dik Od Triaanenen Fol (Finns Ain't What They Used to Be) into the programme, which takes place entirely within a sauna, is another concept over the concept of musicals and reads like an interesting and defeatist act to see how it would be staged for its two and half hour long acts. No doubt it would be entertaining for the torture alone.
Jamming through Act II, an aside by Bowman in "The Diva's Lament" smears a sense of being offstage for far too long, hidden for most of the second half while the men go about carrying the manly load of the stage.
"His Name is Lancelot" breaks out another funny number and a groin thrust with a mind of its own from Adam Grabau taking his lead from a timidly effeminate Prince Herbert (John Garry).
Staging of the duel between King Arthur (Steve McCoy) and the Black Knight works with a little help of misdirection and great costume design. The arms like butter, falling off as easy as the barbs come flying back and forth from the lips of King Arthur and the knight.
One rotating set extends its legs and cranks up the creative juice of suggestion and repurposing of a castle wall and interior for completely different scenes.
Score and music from Eric Idle and John Du Prez paces the punch and flow of the story brilliantly, never letting a lag set in to bore or stagnate. McCoy's hold as King Arthur sets him as a man who just about has had it, finding a light at the journey's end. His trudge however, is upped easily by the ever faithful and ever there Patsy (Glenn Giron).
Lifted from The Life of Brian, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," finds a welcome home. Infectious, the ditty quivers the lips in that state of purse, squeezing a want to whistling along the refrain. Just the right note to end on too when it returns as the finale takes its bows.
Clapping of coconuts at the matinee performance on Saturday, 15 January 2011 at the Lexington Opera House. The musical zooms through two hours with a 15 minute intermission.